The Different Stages of Sleep
After the flurry of REM activity subsides, brain wave patterns will return to non-REM sleep stage 1, and another ninety-minute cycle begins. One of the key differences between the phases is that people aroused during non- REM sleep will not recall having any dreams. In contrast, people aroused during the REM stage are usually able to report that they were dreaming, and they can often recall their dreams in great detail.
Sleepers alternate between REM and NREM sleep four to six times a night, with each cycle lasting an average of 90 minutes, with an average range of 70 to 110 minutes.
Although deep sleep dominates the first two sleep cycles, it occurs less frequently as the night wears on. You probably won't get any more deep sleep after two sleep cycles. Instead, you'll get a lot more REM time.
Sleeping pills and other medications suppress both deep sleep and the REM phase of sleep. This is one reason why they may cause people to feel even more sleepy the next day.
Experiments have shown that if sleepers are awakened as soon as REM starts, they enter REM sleep more rapidly the next time, and their REM is more intense. If the deprivation continues, they go into REM as soon as they fall asleep. It becomes impossible to deprive people of REM sleep without keeping them awake all the time. REM-deprived people can go into REM quickly in shorter naps.
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