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When do you Dream during the Sleep Cycle?
Dreams occur in any of the phases of sleep, nonetheless, the most concise, clear, vivid and memorable dreams are observed in the last phase of sleep (known as the rapid eye movement – REM sleep.
Sleep Cycle and the corresponding influence of each cycle to dreams.
Stage 1 (Transition to sleep)
This stage is short lived lasting for about 5 minutes, it is a non-REM sleep in which eyes move slowly, muscle activity diminishes and one can be easily awakened (Smith, 2010, p. 1). Dreams at this stage are phenomenological to falling into a trance.
Stage 2 (Light sleep)
This is the very initial stage of real sleep, lasting for about 20 minutes. It is marked by reduced body temperatures, slow heart rate and the stopping of the eye movement (Stibich, 2009, p. 1). The light sleep stage is also a non-REM sleep, in which one can be awakened without much effort since the body at this stage prepares itself to enter into deep sleep. Dreams at this stage take the same form of falling into a trance as in the first stage of sleep, though there is an increased tendency of falling into the trance at this stage.
Stage 3 (Deep sleep)
This marks the initial phase of deep sleep, in which it is difficult to awaken someone. If one is awakened at this phase he/she would feel mixed up for several minutes. Deep sleep is marked by relaxed muscles, reducing body temperature and the repairing of the cognitive domain by the immune system (Smith, 2010, p. 1). This also is a non-REM sleep and dreams at this stage begin to take a concise and clear shape before the eyes of the dreamer.
Stage 4 (More intense deep sleep)
This is the deepest phase of one’s sleep. Brain activity is greatly reduced and much of the blood flow is directed towards restoring physical strength in the muscles, rather than the brain. It is very difficult to awaken someone at this stage of sleep, deep sleep is responsible for refreshing one after sleep (Stibich, 2009, p. 1). This is also a non-REM sleep and at this stage dreams are clear and vivid.
REM sleep – Rapid eye movement
At this stage many vivid and memorable dreams take place. REM sleep is characterized by fast, shallow and irregular breathing, immobility of muscles and rapid eye movement. Heart activity and blood pressure consequently heighten. REM sleep begins approximately 80 minutes after one falls asleep. With the repetition of the sleep cycles, so easy does it become for the sleeper to get to the REM sleep, thus the prevalence of dreams during the wee hours of the night (Smith, 2010, p. 1).
Stages 2 to REM sleep recur/repeat themselves throughout the night. Sleep cycles repeats itself several times per night, this explain why people have more than one dream in their sleep.
The first sleep cycle is characterized by a very short REM sleep, but toward morning, REM sleep is prolonged explaining the reason as to why most people claim to have had only one dream in a whole night’s sleep, owing to the fact that they can only remember those dreams which did occur closer toward the morning when they were just about to wake up (Stibich, 2009, p. 1).
Thus, inability to call a dream into remembrance should not nullify the occurrence of the dream. Of essence, this clearly indicates that the only phase in which most vivid, clear, concise and memorable dreams occur is the REM sleep.
Smith, M. (2010). How much sleep do you need? Web.
Stibich, M. (2009). The Stages of Sleep. Web.