Long deep sleep phases without interruption phases are called NonREM (REM – Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, where both the locomotor system and the brain are in resting mode. These recharge our energy batteries, regenerate the body structures, keep the immune system strong or simply keep us healthy. Nocturnal tossing and turning and lengthy thoughts and thoughts circling around at night not only diminish our good mood, but also cause our spirits to evaporate.
The cerebral activity is most pronounced during the REM phase and it is also during this time that we dream most. The various sleep phases are passed through several times during the night in cycles of varying duration.
But peripheral physiological processes also take place during sleep. Changes in heart rate, body heat and muscular tension and relaxation phases can be observed. (Acute Clinic for Psychosomatics, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 2014).
A restful sleep has a positive effect on the following areas, among others:
- Physical and mental recovery
- Processing of experiences
- Coping with stress
- Retention of learning in long-term memory
- Support of hormonal functions
- Strengthening of the immune system (MediClin, 2014)
The meaning of REM sleep
In 1953, American scientists discovered the so-called REM sleep by chance. It is named after the rapid eye movements that occur during this sleep phase.
The sleep researchers found that people who are awakened from this so-called REM sleep report dreams more often than test persons who are awakened from other sleep phases. They concluded that dreaming is equivalent to REM sleep. This assumption is increasingly being questioned today. New research suggests that dreaming also occurs during other sleep phases. However, these are not the typical vivid and complex dreams of actual dream sleep, but mostly short, rather rational and thought-like episodes.
The function of REM sleep is still unclear. However, it is assumed that during this sleep phase, experienced situations are processed and recorded information is partly stored in the long-term memory. The role of dreams is still being researched.