Learning with Lisa Tan
Although scientists have uncovered a great deal about rapid eye movement (REM) sleep as outlined below, there is still much to learn and uncover.
Brain activity during REM sleep is similar to that seen in wakefulness. The brain cells use a great deal of energy, leading scientists to theorise that REM sleep may play an important role in learning, laying down networks in the brain that allow us to learn new things AND remember what we’ve learnt.
Curiously, at the same time with all this brain activity, almost all of our muscles are paralysed. With the exception of the major breathing muscle, the diaphragm, and certain sphincters at the top and bottom of our gastrointestinal tract.
In spite of this general paralysis, cells in the brain become active, and create electrical storms, with electrical impulses which work their way through the central nervous system until they reach the part of the brain that controls eye movement – setting off the rapid eye movement characteristic of this sleep phase.
When these impulses pass through the parts of the nervous system that control breathing and the cardiovascular system, they can create dangerous irregularities in our breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythm.
The above two paragraphs was a long-winded explanation for why sleep apnea in women, may only occur during REM sleep.
Perhaps the most intriguing feature of REM sleep is that the most vivid dreaming happens during this enigmatic state.
All humans with intact brains dream. Usually three to five times a night.
Source: book/ the mystery of sleep by Meir Kryger