The mysteries of Rapid eye movement dreams


Novel methodologies are helping scientists unravel the mysteries of our brains, providing a better understanding of sleep cycles, dreams and brain activity.

Read on to find out about the known facts as of 2020.

As modern neuroscience has discovered, sleep follows a very precise mechanism and evolves in 90 minutes cycles on average. Each of these sleep cycles includes three clearly identified phases: calm awakening or light sleep, then deep sleep and finally REMS.

REMS (Rapid eye movement sleep), as amazing as it may sound, is truly occurring multiple times every night! This is the phase when neuroscientists belive our most exciting dreams occur.

For now scientific experimentation cannot yet prove a subject in a period of REMS is dreaming. But empirical experience shows 85% of people remember their dream when awakened during this phase, versus only 10% to 15% during deep sleep.

It is estimated that humans dream 100 minutes on average every night. Thus a 60 year old will have spent about 5 years of his or her life dreaming within a total of 20 years sleeping!

Dream duration

These sleep cycles differ as the night progresses: initially slow and deep sleep phases are longer and REM sleep is at its shortest. Later during the night the slow sleep and deep cycles shorten, whereas the REM phase becomes longer.

This is why the length of our consecutive nightly dreams increases. Our first dream in the night lasts just about ten minutes, then the second one about twenty minutes, while the following dreams last half an hour. These last dreams are the ones best remembered, as they take place at the end of the night, when we are about to awake.

We always best remember our dreams when we just awake, as they are still in our short-term memory, which only keeps the very recent past in our mind. For us to really remember a dream, it must reach the long-term memory part of our brain, which normally does not happen. It will only happen when we write down the story of the dream, so has to have a record of it. By thinking about a dream we had, it will then more easily be remembered.

Another notable fact is that the first hours of the night provide more rest, where both the body and the brain are mainly resting and dreaming less. As if the biological priority was to rest at first, and only dream if time permits after the body is rested.

Dreaming and remembering it

Humans are not all equal when it comes to dreaming. As a matter of fact we don’t all have the same capability for dreaming or for remembering our dreams.

Thus, women seem to dream more than men. Waking up during a REMS phase, 95% of them remember what they were dreaming, compared to only 80% of men. They are also able to give a more detailed account of the events, which seem to last longer. Women are also more prone to nightmares than their male counterparts.

Researchers today have no scientific explanation for this phenomenon. At most, one can draw a parallel with the fact that women are often endowed with a greater emotional imagination than men and therefore may be more inclined to dream in a rich and detailed manner.

We don’t dream the same way at all ages.

It is very complicated to determine from what age a child begins to dream and specialists do not agree on that. It seems that in the first months, even the first years of life, the baby and the child are rather victims of night terrors, a phenomenon which is not akin to dreams and which occurs during slow sleep rather than during sleep within REMS.

For a child to begin to dream, he must have the maturity necessary to realize that it is a dream and that he has the vocabulary to tell it. Otherwise he cannot interpret his dreams.

Age and ability to dream

It therefore seems that the ability to dream increases in the first months of our life, as does all of an individual’s cognitive abilities. Conversely, this ability to dream would also decrease with age and seniors would have fewer dreams than adults in full bloom of age. Again, impossible to generalize or have certainties, but two elements support this hypothesis.

Seniors often sleep for shorter durations than younger people. However, as was said, REM sleep lengthens over the night, during the third and fourth cycles. It is therefore likely that the elderly simply have less REM sleep available to them to dream.

Like other organs, the brain ages and rusts with age. Neuronal plasticity decreases, that is to say that the neurons become less adaptable, the connections between them are sometimes less potent. This is why it is more difficult to learn new things as you get older than when you are a high school student or a student. In the same way, this lack of plasticity could play a role on the imagination and dreams.

Serious research on dreams began in the 1950s, which made it possible to highlight the particularities of REM sleep as well as its functioning. The majority of researchers believe nowadays that most of the dream in its successful form takes place during the REM phase.

At the end of the 19th century, Edmond Goblot launched an inverse theory, taken up more recently by neurobiologist Jean-Pol Tassin: we would dream during short periods of wakefulness, between two sleep cycles. A theory that they defend thanks to the existence of the famous alarm clock dreams where the external stimuli, which eventually wake us up, are integrated into the dream.

Evolution and the ability to remember as well as the ability to tell our dreams come from the effectiveness of these neurons that we all have by the billions. This neural mechanism varies according to age and sex, but everyone goes through the same sleep.

Diets Can Have an Effect on the Quality of Sleep

sleeping wellThere are a number of connections that link diet and sleep and we all know that eating too much or even not eating can cause a disruption of our sleep patterns. Light snacks before you sleep can assist in sleep, but heavy food can cause discomfort in the digestive system and lead to a person remaining awake.

It is also known that large amounts of alcohol can make insomnia worse and impairs REM sleep when the body is in its most restorative phase. Alcohol also causes dehydration and this can disrupt sleep when you feel thirsty, and also result in tiredness on the next day. At the same time, it has been known that small amounts of alcohol can actually act as a sopoforic and help you to get to sleep. Caffeine disturbs sleep especially if you are sensitive to it, so coffee must be avoided before bedtime.

High-fat meals that lead to heartburn and indigestion can also lead to a disturbed pattern of sleep. It is also well established that your bed-time must be a couple of hours after you have eaten, as when you have a full stomach, gastric juices will flow into the esophagus when you are lying down and this can lead to heartburn which then interrupts sleep. Drinking of water or other fluids closer to bedtime can make your bladder full, and require you to interrupt your sleep to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

A combination of milk and honey can help in promoting sleep. The tryptophan which is a part of milk does induce sleep, as it increases the brain’s level of serotonin, a natural sedative. The honey is a natural sugar and this carbohydrate facilitates the entry of the tryptophan into the brain. There are also other foods that can act as natural sedatives, and every culture around the world has its own well-established dietary aids to sleep. There are a number of herbs that can also help in inducing sleep, like the root, valerian.

Studies have indicated that there is a lot of association between dietary patterns and sleep. High intakes of confectionery and noodles lead to poor sleep quality. Vegetables and fish, on the other hand, lead to better sleep. Poor eating habits, like skipping breakfast or eating meals at irregular hours can also lead to poor quality of sleep.

Adequate sleep is necessary for good health so that the body organs and tissues get enough rest. It can also have an effect on learning and memory. Sleep is also greatly affected by body structures like obesity, that often lead to sleep apnea, a great disturber of a sound sleep. But then most obesity problems are directly linked to diets and eating and can be overcome when you lose weight and eat and exercise sensibly. Also, a good tip is to get a comfortable mattress, here is a discounted one we found.

Poor diets can often cause acid reflux, which has been known to cause nighttime heartburn that can disturb sleep patterns. Sleeping well can put you on the road to good health if it is combined with a sensible diet and exercise regime. Eating healthy allows the body to absorb nutrients adequately and this, in turn, provides the brain with the right chemical environment that produces the neurotransmitters that are needed to maintain the right pattern of sleep.

There are certain amino acids involved in the act of sleeping and these are created from the nutrients that we can get from food to act as building blocks for the proteins and minerals that are needed for the creation of these amino acids. Less fiber, more saturated fat and sugar throughout the day, that is typical of fast food, can lead to lighter and disturbed sleep during the night.

4 Reasons Why You Are Bloated

People nowadays find a bloated stomach bothersome. The causes range from simple cases of lactose intolerance to severe cases of cancer. But not all bloated tummies depict medical conditions.

Eating an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise are usually reasons for a stomach to protrude more than it should. Being overweight can cause this problem as well. If you want to achieve the aesthetics of a lean belly and not worry about wearing tight-fitting clothes, exercise is not the only solution. You must also determine the causes behind it to eliminate the problem for good.

Carbonated Drinks

Every person likes to drink soda once in a while. But soda, like other carbonated drinks, are filled with gas. When you drink them, your digestive system will be filled with it. This is why you burp them out. However, if the gas reaches your intestines, it will take a while for it to pass.

Too Much Salt

Salt is an essential staple in every kitchen. Food does not taste the same without it. However, excessively eating too much salt can make your body hold on to water. On top of that, too much water retention causes health problems such as high blood pressure. Always check your intake of salt and do not forget to lead food labels for sodium levels.

Excessive Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. But too much of it does not just make you retain water, it also causes you to gain weight. Without proper control, excessive carbohydrates can lead to high blood sugar and even diabetes. Make sure to avoid simple carbs such as pastries, cookies, white bread and white rice. Instead, choose options from the complex carbs list. They could be vegetables, fruits or whole grains.

Constipation

There are some people who do not experience a regular schedule in the bathroom, which makes them constipated and feel bloated. Lack of water consumption, diet change, and stress causes this problem. Typically, constipation passes on its own. Nevertheless, you can remedy this by taking a laxative.

Most of the time, you can manage the issues of bloating on your own. But if you start to feel weak or experience diarrhea, fever or pain, talk to your doctor right away.