Does REM sleep influence our mental health? (Image via Pexels/ Ron Lach)

Importance of REM sleep for mental health

REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) plays a crucial role in maintaining our mental and physical health as well as our memory. Scientists believe that REM sleep is associated with the organization and storage of memory, promoting neuroplasticity, learning new abilities, mood control, and even the way we perceive other people’s emotions and react. to stressful situations.

We also tend to identify this stage with the formation of the dream. Your brain waves become rapid and shallow during this sleep, which involves the lower brain centers, the brain stem and thalamus connecting to the upper cortex. Brain waves during this stage mimic those of alertness, according to EEG scans.

It’s no surprise that if you wake up in the middle of an REM cycle, you’re more likely to remember the dream you just had because, despite being in sleep, your brain is completely awake.

How is sleep related to mental health?

Throughout several stages of sleep that make up the sleep cycle, brain activity increases and decreases. Although general brain activity slows during NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, there are brief bursts of energy. This stage is related to vivid dreaming. Each stage contributes to brain health by facilitating the ups and downs of activity in various areas of the brain and improving thinking, learning and memory. Additionally, studies have shown that brain activity when we sleep has a significant impact on our emotional and mental well-being.

The brain’s ability to interpret emotional information is aided by adequate sleep, particularly REM sleep. It functions to analyze and retain ideas and memories when we sleep, and lack of sleep appears to be particularly detrimental to the consolidation of emotionally pleasing information. This is linked to mental illnesses and their severity, including the likelihood of suicidal thoughts or actions, and can affect mood and emotional reactivity.

The conventional belief that sleep problems are a sign of mental health issues is increasingly being challenged. It is now clear that there is a two-way link between sleep and mental health, and that sleep problems can both contribute to and be the result of mental health issues.

Reasons why REM sleep is crucial

The link between sleep and mental health is undeniable. Here are some specific ways REM sleep is crucial to our mental health:

1) Memory

REM sleep allows your brain to assimilate new knowledge it has ingested throughout the day. When information is processed during this stage, it is stored for long periods of time and aids memory.

2) Dreaming

Most of your dreams occur while you are in this sleep phase. A common misconception regarding sleep is that dreams only occur during this state. Despite this, REM sleep is associated with more vivid dreams than non-REM sleep. Dreaming is not only associated with imagery, but also with strengthening neural networks and connections.

3) Concentration and productivity

Sleeping well can enhance your productivity. (Image via Pexels/ Cotton bro)

Your immune system can suffer if you fail to get enough REM sleep. In fact, the body’s ability to create new healthy cells and tissues may also be hampered. Insufficient sleep can also be a factor in diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart problems.

5) Emotional intelligence

Sleeping has been associated with empathy and emotional intelligence. (Image via Pexels/ Andrea Piacquadio)

Extensive research on humans and animals demonstrates that REM sleep deprivation affects memory development. However, since these two conditions frequently coexist, memory problems related to REM sleep loss may actually be caused by general sleep disorders. Additionally, research on the extremely rare few people who do not experience REM sleep reveals that they do not have memory or learning problems. But sleep loss interferes with the brain’s ability to create new cells. To better understand the impact of sleep deprivation, more research is needed.

In general, it’s not a good idea to skip sleep. Your immune system, emotions, and other facets of your overall health are all affected by sleep. Sleep deprivation happens when you don’t get enough rest. Sleep deprivation symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating during the day.
  • Excessive sleep during the day.
  • A lack of consciousness or memory difficulties.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, depression, obesity, and cardiovascular disease over time.


In general, it’s not a good idea to skip sleep. Your immune system, emotions, and other facets of your overall health are all affected by sleep. It may take some trial and error to find the routines and bedroom setup that work best for you, but persevering through the process can help you fall asleep easier and sleep through the night.

Janvi Kapur is a counselor and holds a master’s degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.

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