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Monday, February 9, 2009

REM sleep

Do you think we receive the appropriate amount of sleep our bodies need everyday for revitalization? Naps, nod outs, and day dreaming aside, some people only manage to get around 4-6 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. But one should to ask themselves how much of this sleep is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is the deepest sleep we can obtain. During REM sleep our brain calms down and in some cases paralyses the muscles in our body except for those that we need to stay alive.(like the heart, lungs, ect.) During this brief sleep event those inactive muscles are relaxed and cleansed by the circulatory system. Not enough of this REM sleep could be a serious problem for anyone who suffers from chronic back pain, neck pain, TMD (temporomandibular disorder), or any other stressful conditions in a persons life.

Lack Of REM sleep May Raise Obesity Risk In Kids
Studies have shown that children and teens who fail to get the proper amount of sleep each night are more prone to obesity, and researchers now think it may be linked to a particular stage of sleep.

They said not spending enough time in rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep — the type that is normally associated with dreaming — significantly increased the odds of obesity in children and teens.

“Our results demonstrated that the short sleep-obesity association may be attributed to reduced REM sleep,” said Dr. Xianchen Liu of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh reported on Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Ultimately, obesity is the byproduct of taking in more calories than the body needs. But Liu and colleagues wanted to see if they could identify any stage of sleep that appeared especially important.

The researchers studied 335 children and adolescents aged 7 to 17 for three consecutive nights. Their sleep was monitored through polysomnography, which measures sleep cycles and stages by recording brain waves, electrical activity of muscles, eye movement, breathing rate, blood pressure, and other variables.

How Snoozing Makes You Smarter?
The latest research suggests that while we are peacefully asleep our brain is busily processing the day's information.
It combs through recently formed memories, stabilizing, copying and filing them, so that they will be more useful the next day.
A night of sleep can make memories resistant to interference from other information and allow us to recall them for use more effectively the next morning.
And sleep not only strengthens memories, it also lets the brain sift through newly formed memories, possibly even identifying what is worth keeping and selectively maintaining or enhancing these aspects of a memory.
When a picture contains both emotional and unemotional elements, sleep can save the important emotional parts and let the less relevant background drift away.
It can analyze collections of memories to discover relations among them or identify the gist of a memory while the unnecessary details fade perhaps even helping us find the meaning in what we have learned.
As exciting findings such as these come in more and more rapidly, we are becoming sure of one thing: while we sleep, our brain is anything but inactive.

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