How Much REM Sleep Do You Need?

Sleeping well contributes to you living an amazingly healthy and happy life. Of course, late nights are inevitable.

However, too many late nights can result in you waking up feeling extremely sleep-deprived.

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body, but how much do you actually need?

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about REM sleep and the sleep cycle. So, if this is of interest to you, read on for more! 

What Are The Four Stages Of Sleep?

Sleep is categorized into four stages by scientists. These stages are differentiated and measured with an EEG, an electroencephalogram.

The First Stage: Non-REM Light(est) Sleep

The first stage of sleep is the lightest. Here, the sleeping person will be awakened easily, and generally drifts in and out of sleep. 

Their muscle activity will be slow, and their eyes will also move slowly.

If you are in this first stage of sleep, you may experience that falling sensation that wakes you up suddenly. You will also experience muscle contractions that you do not expect. 

The Second Stage: Non-REM Light Sleep

Woman in light sleep in bed

During the second stage, the sleeping person is still very much sleeping lightly. There are some key differences here, though.

The eye movement of the sleeping person will stop, while their brainwaves will slow down.

Intermittently, the brain will produce quick brain waves as a form of activity. Meanwhile, the sleeping person will experience a drop in body temperature and their heart rate will get slower.

Here, the body is preparing itself to go into a deeper sleep

The Third Stage: Non-REM Deep Sleep

The third stage of sleep is also known as “Delta Sleep” or “SWS”, Slow Wave Sleep. Here, there are signals of a high amplitude and a slow frequency that help to provide a very restful sleep.

If you deem yourself to be a “light sleeper”, you are unlikely to feel alert and well-rested when you wake up, and it will be difficult to get out of bed and start your day.

Those who are asleep in stage three will be difficult to wake, sleeping through movement and loud noises.

When awoken, those who were in the third stage of sleep will find it difficult to be and stay awake.

This is also the sleeping stage where the sleeping person is more likely to wet the bed, start sleeping, talking or walking, or experience night terrors.

A term for these behaviors is parasomnias, and they happen most of the time during the shift between non-REM and REM sleep.

The brain is active in this period, helping to prepare the body for the next day. It is necessary for everyone to experience this stage of sleep.

This is because the brain will attempt to get back to this stage of sleep if disturbed. 

The Fourth Stage: REM Sleep

This is the final stage of sleep. REM sleep, also known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep, is where the sleeping person will dream.

Contrary to popular belief, everyone dreams. Many people do not remember their dreams, or remember dreaming at all, but nonetheless, they still have dreams.

If you wake up during REM sleep, you are more likely to remember your dreams. 

During REM sleep, the muscles of the sleeping person do not move, they experience irregular breathing, and EEG will show patterns similar to when a person is awake.

Additionally, their blood pressure and heart rate increases when they are in REM sleep.

Scientists think that the muscle paralysis results from an advantage in evolution that acts as a way of preventing people from hurting themselves as they sleep.

While your eyes are closed during REM sleep, they also move from one side to the other.

The sleep cycle is not always linear, and a person may fall back to stage one or two after reaching stage three.

Once the sleeping person has gone through REM sleep, the cycle will start again with the sleeping person reverting back to stage one.

During the course of the night, the sleeping person spends a lot more time in REM sleep, and less time in the third stage. 

How Much REM Sleep Do You Need?

How Much REM Sleep Do You Need?

20 to 25% of the total sleep of the average adult needs to be REM sleep. This depends on how many hours they spend sleeping.

For example, if you sleep for 7 hours a night, then anything between 84-105 minutes needs to be REM sleep.

If you sleep for 9 hours a night, then anything from 108-135 minutes needs to be spent in REM sleep. 

What Happens When You Do Not Get Enough Sleep?

Your sleep should be a priority. 

You should have the ability to function throughout the day without needing to sleep.

If you need to nap or find it hard to get out of bed, feel very drowsy while driving or working, or drift off while doing a different activity, it is a sign you do not get enough sleep. 

When you are sleep deprived, you may experience the following:

  • Moodiness 
  • Lethargy 
  • Fatigue 
  • Impaired cognitive and learning abilities 
  • Weakened immune system 
  • Increased chance of depression 
  • Difficulty coping with stress 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Delirium 

 In extreme cases, you may have an increased risk of:

  • Certain cancers
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • A stroke

When you wake up completely, your brain must start the sleep cycle again from stage one.

If you have interrupted sleep, you are less likely to reach the most restorative deep parts of the cycle of sleep (stage three). This can be worse for you than not sleeping at all.

The best times to sleep as an adult will be anywhere between 8PM and midnight, to give your body and brain the best chance of getting the necessary stage three sleep. 

Final Thoughts

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health. The average adult needs 20-25% of their sleep to be REM sleep, the final stage.

However, the most important stage of sleep is the third stage, this is a deep sleep necessary for restoration.

We hope this article helped you to understand how much REM sleep you need.