Deep Sleep Vs REM Sleep - How They're Different

Updated May, 2021
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Deep sleep is the step before REM sleep, and performs different functions within your nightly sleep cycle. During deep sleep, your body relaxes and your heart-rate slows. During REM sleep, your blood pressure speeds up and your pulse quickens as your body goes about its most essential tasks.  

What is deep sleep?

Deep sleep takes up about 20% of your sleep cycle. This is the time during which you become less responsive to outside stimuli. Your breathing and heart-rate slows, and this stage is where most vivid dreams take place. It's also the most vital part of sleep, where your body begins to undergo all the natural biological processes necessary during sleep.

What is REM sleep?

Rapid eye movement sleep, or REM sleep, is an essential function of your natural sleep cycle. As suggested by the name, your eyes dart rapidly during REM sleep as brain activity increases and pulse quickens. The first cycle takes place approximately 90 minutes after first falling asleep, and lasts 10 minutes. As you progress through the cycle, REM sleep can last as long as an hour.

How much deep sleep should you get?

Not as much as you might think, though it's different for everyone. Most experts recommend getting between 1.5%-2% of deep sleep per night. However, it's important to note there are several factors that go into determining how much deep sleep you should get, including age, weight, and overall health. Getting enough deep sleep has been known to:

  • Decrease mental health issues.
  • Increase overall health.
  • Improve mood and productivity.

Is REM sleep good?

Yes. REM sleep has several benefits to your general health, and has been known to:

  • Interpret the emotions of others
  • Increases capacity for long-term memory
  • Those who receive poor-quality REM sleep are at greater risk for neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
  • Good-quality REM sleep helps ease symptoms of mental illness, such as depression

What if you don't get enough deep sleep?

If you don't get enough sleep, you'll be less productive throughout your day. Those who don't get enough deep sleep generally have a weaker immune system, and are therefore more susceptible to illness. Also, not getting enough REM sleep has a correlation to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.  

What if you don't get enough REM sleep?

Lack of REM sleep hinders your ability to learn and process new memories. REM sleep is also a component of sleep deprivation, which is a risk factor of both obesity and heart disease. New evidence has also linked inadequate REM sleep to chronic migraines.

Can a better mattress help me get the right sleep?

Investing in a new mattress helps you find the comfort you need to achieve REM sleep and increase your level of productive rest. If you're looking to help control your sleep environment and experience a more restful sleep, finding a new mattress is a wise step in the right direction

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