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What is Paradoxical Sleep?

What is Paradoxical Sleep?

Sandland Editorial Team
· 2 min read
why do we need paradoxical sleep

Paradoxical sleep is characterized by intense activity in the brain and the presence of rapid eye movement. Meanwhile, our bodies remain relatively motionless during this phase. Experts believe we turn off voluntary muscular activity when we dream to prevent injury to ourselves or others. Of course, involuntary muscular activity, such as heartbeat, continues during this time.

What's the Difference Between Paradoxical Sleep and REM Sleep?

We may spend one-third of our lives sleeping, yet the phenomenon is still a mystery to most of us. Simply put, there is no difference between paradoxical sleep and REM sleep. The two refer to the same stage of sleep, though the term "paradox" often throws people off.

The word, which is typically used to describe instances that go against common sense, describes a specific part of the sleep cycle where our brains remain incredibly active but our bodies are unable to move.

So, What Exactly is REM Sleep?

paradoxical sleep

Rapid eye movement sleep (REM) is a type of sleep that occurs at regular intervals throughout the night and is distinguished by rapid eye movements and vivid dreams — physiologic properties that set it apart from non-REM sleep.

The majority of people undergo their first cycle of REM sleep 90 minutes after snoozing. Shorter bursts of REM sleep occur at first, and as the night goes on and the body's need for deep slumber is met, longer surges ofREM sleep occur. This is the time when your body repairs and grows back tissues, develops bone and muscle, and boosts the immune system.

Why Is REM Sleep Also Called "Paradoxical Sleep"

Due to physiological commonalities in a person's waking states, including low-voltage, quick, desynchronized brain signals, the REM phase of sleep is also known as "paradoxical sleep" or "desynchronized sleep."

Because of the ramp-up in brain activity, REM sleep is frequently associated with incredibly realistic dreams. This sleep phase is sometimes referred to as "paradoxical sleep" because the muscles are immobilized while the brain is very active—in fact, it is actively engaged, just like it is when you are awake.

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

When you don't spend enough time in the paradoxical phase of sleep, you suffer from a paradoxical lack of sleep. In other words, you can fall and stay asleep, but you're locked in the light sleep stage.

This means that you aren't actively dreaming as you normally would in this step of the sleep cycle.

Because muscle repair, brain development, and energy replenishment, among other things, occur in the deeper phases of sleep, remaining in light sleep mode can have serious and long-term health implications, including:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Excessive exhaustion
  • Loss of focus
  • Poor memory
  • Decreased immune system function
  • Swollen eyes

Benefits of Paradoxical Sleep

benefits of paradoxical sleep

REM sleep is thought to improve learning, memory, and mood. A lack of REM sleep may have negative effects on both your physical and emotional well-being.

In fact, it has been shown in studies that a lack of REM sleep can affect memory, mood, mental function, and cell regeneration. This could affect your workday, but it could also impair your athletic performance, making it difficult to perform more complex activities. 

According to research conducted by NINDS, it has also been theorized that when people are still unable to enter REM sleep, they barely remember what they tried to learn before deep sleep.

In infants, REM sleep may be particularly essential for normal development. According to some research, this sleep stage is responsible for the neural stimulation required to develop mature neural connections.


When REM and paradoxical sleep are often discussed as separate phenomena, they are both characterized by specific reactions in different brain areas and occur at specific times during the sleep cycle. Any disruption in these sleep states can cause insomnia and other sleep disorders.

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Our sleep aids are designed to get you back in sync with your body's natural circadian rhythm. While other products in the market only focus on knocking you out and don't account for how confused and exhausted you may feel in the morning, Sandland's melatonin content is less than 1%, making it ideal for daily use.

What is the meaning of paradoxical sleep?

Activated sleep, deep sleep, relatively minor sleep, rapid eye movement sleep or REM, and para sleep are synonymous with paradoxical sleep. Because dreams almost entirely characterize this sleep state, it is also known as dreaming sleep or D-state.

Your brain is very engaged during paradoxical sleep, and your eyes start moving in a sharp, back and forth motion rather than the slower, more sliding motion that happens during other phases of sleep. Even though your eyes are moving rapidly and your brain is active, your muscles are almost completely paralyzed.

Why is rapid eye movement sleep called paradoxical sleep?

Because the body acts much the same way in the REM sleep cycle as it does when awake, REM sleep is considered "paradoxical" in nature. Although the body is paralyzed, cerebral neurons continue to fire in the brain in the same way as when we are awake. The paradox is that the body is inactive while the brain is very active and consumes much energy during REM sleep.

What happens to the brain during paradoxical sleep?

Most researchers classify the stages of our sleep cycle into four to five stages. We transition from a state of wakefulness to one of deep slumber from stage 1 to stage 4 of our sleep pattern. Our brain waves transition from waking to slow waves (low frequency, high amplitude). However, our neural activity changes during stage 5, or REM sleep. Here, the brain waves are much more similar to those activated during wakefulness.

Written by Sandland Editorial Team

Our internal editorial team has put together research on key topics including product formulation, efficacy studies, and sleep advice.

Customer Stories: Anthony K.

It’s been estimated that upwards of 20 percent of Americans have experimented with natural remedies for help falling asleep. Anthony, a real Sandland user, happens to be one of them.

What Are the Benefits of REM Sleep?

Sleep is a crucial factor that has a mega influence on our health and wellbeing. A good night’s sleep rejuvenates our brain and body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults between the ages of 18 to 60 years require a minimum of 7 hours of uninterrupted, deep sleep everyday to function at their peak.

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