Why do we toss and turn when we sleep?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q&A - AN­GELA MUNRO, LV

A TYP­I­CAL NIGHT’S sleep con­sists of REM and non-REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Move­ment and is named af­ter the way your eyes dart around un­der your eye­lids. REM sleep is when you dream. To pre­vent you act­ing out your dreams, nerve im­pulses from your mo­tor cor­tex are in­ter­cepted in the spinal cord and blocked. So you’ll never thrash about dur­ing a dream, no mat­ter how vivid it is. In­stead, most of the toss­ing and turn­ing ac­tu­ally hap­pens in the brief mo­ments af­ter REM sleep when you wake up. This only lasts a few sec­onds and we usu­ally don’t re­mem­ber hav­ing wo­ken, so it feels like we are toss­ing and turn­ing in our sleep. You can have four or five REM/ non-REM cy­cles ev­ery night and the wake­ful in­ter­ludes give you a chance to change po­si­tion or ad­just the cov­ers.

Stages of sleep over eight hours

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