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Rapid Eye Movement Sleep

  1. Robert H. Howland

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy1049

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Howland, R. H. 2010. Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The two main phases of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. REM sleep is often called dreaming (or D) sleep, because dreams are reported by about 70–80% of persons awakened during this period. REM sleep also is referred to as paradoxical sleep, because the brain paradoxically seems to be in an activated state that is similar to, but not identical to, the waking state. REM sleep is characterized by an activated electroencephalogram (EEG) pattern (low-voltage, fast-frequency brain waves), muscular paralysis (with the exception of diaphragmatic and ocular muscles), periodic bursts of rapid eye movements, and autonomic nervous system instability (e.g., variable blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration). Brain metabolism is normal or slightly increased during REM sleep.