Standard Article

Paradoxical Sleep

  1. B. Michael Thorne

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0635

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Thorne, B. M. 2010. Paradoxical Sleep. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Mississippi State University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Paradoxical sleep is a sleep stage characterized physiologically by a lack of muscle tone; rapid eye movements (REMs), which are not always rapid; and an awake cortical electroencephalographic (EEG) pattern. The paradox refers to the disparity between the alert EEG pattern, implying that the person is awake or nearly so, and the indications that the person is actually more deeply asleep than at other times (difficulty in arousing, reduced muscle tone). The lack of muscle tone prevents the sleeper from performing the activities reflected in the alert EEG pattern. REM without atonia or REM behavior disorder is a sleep disorder in which the atonia fails to occur, with the result that the sleeper may actually perform his or her REM sleep actions.