Deep Sleep Brain Waves

Duration of REM sleep related to body temperature

Deep Sleep Brainwaves

According to new research from UCLA, the duration of REM sleep is linked to body temperature in animals, with higher body temperatures being associated with lower amounts of REM sleep.

Warm-blooded groups of animals with lower body temperatures have faster REM sleep, while those with higher body temperatures have lower amounts of REM sleep. That’s according to new research from Jerome Siegel, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who said his study suggests REM sleep acts as a “thermostatically controlled brain warmer.”

REM sleep occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Behind closed eyelids, your eyes dart rapidly from side to side. Mixed frequency brain wave activity approximates that seen in the waking state. Your breathing becomes more rapid and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. Most of your dreams occur during REM sleep, although some may also occur during non-REM sleep. Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, preventing you from achieving your dreams. As you age, you spend less time sleeping in REM sleep.

Siegel says the results suggest a previously unobserved relationship between body temperature and REM sleep, a period of sleep when the brain is highly active. Recently published in Lancet NeurologyThe study was authored by Professor Siegel, who directs the Sleep Research Center at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

Birds have the highest body temperature of any warm-blooded or homeothermic animal group at 41 °C (106 °F) while getting the least REM sleep at 0.7 hours per day. This is followed by humans and other placental mammals (37°C/99°F, 2 hours REM sleep), marsupials (35°C/95°F, 4.4 hours REM sleep), and monotremes (31° C/88°F, 7.5 hours REM sleep).

Brain temperature drops during non-REM sleep and then rises during the REM sleep that usually follows. This model “allows warm-blooded mammals to conserve energy during non-REM sleep without the brain becoming so cold that it fails to respond to threat,” Siegel said.

The amount of REM sleep in humans is neither high nor low compared to other warm-blooded animals, “undermining some popular views suggesting a role for REM sleep in learning or emotional regulation,” he said. .

Reference: “Sleep function: an evolutionary perspective” by Jerome M Siegel, PhD, October 1, 2022,

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