What is Paradoxical Sleep?

Infographic displaying the 4 stages of the sleep cycle.

There are four stages of sleep that people go through when catching some shut eye. Doctors and other medical professionals refer to the first three as non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) or non-REM sleep. The fourth stage is REM sleep—some doctors refer to this last pitstop in the sleep cycle as "paradoxical sleep."

In this blog post, AcousticSheep®, creators of the world's most comfortable headphones, SleepPhones®, defines paradoxical sleep and its processes.

Paradoxical Sleep State

The word "paradoxical" comes from the word "paradox." A paradox is contradictory or absurd in its nature.

So why call the deepest stage of shuteye "paradoxical sleep?" Because during this stage there is a perplexing amount of brain activity despite a lack of motor function.

What's more, REM sleep is synonymous with paradoxical sleep, given that the sleep state is associated with intense brain activity and dreaming, despite being asleep and lacking motor functions.

French researcher Michel Jouvet coined REM sleep as paradoxical sleep, which he noted in his book The Paradox of Sleep: The Story of Dreaming, first published in 1993 in France.

As the name implies, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is when our eyes and eyelids flutter. Meanwhile, the muscles in our body experience a temporary state of paralysis. There are a total of four main stages of sleep:

Johns Hopkins Medicine states that people who are in sleep stages one through three undergo processes where their bodies work to strengthen the immune system, maintain metabolism, "promote the removal of waste products from brain cells," and manage "the brain's ability to adapt to input." Paradoxical sleep aids memory and cognitive performance while enhancing the biochemical behaviors of the brain. The time each individual spends in paradoxical sleep varies. According to the Cleveland Clinic, paradoxical sleep:

Medical professionals have reported that people in paradoxical sleep may also experience faster breathing and increased heart rate and blood pressure, amongst other reactions.

A Word from AcousticSheep

Sleep is essential to promoting good health and overall wellness. Without the proper amount of sleep, there are a myriad of side effects that may occur.

Many people seeking better sleeping have turned to SleepPhones® headphones. Family physician Wei-Shin Lai designed our noise-reducing headphones with your comfort and every sleep stage in mind. To achieve a better night's rest, visit our product page to browse our corded and wireless headphones starting at $39.95.

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