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Physiological Psychology: Essay on the Importance of Sleep. The Characteristics of REM and Non-REM Sleep

Sleep is a natural process, which has always been a mystery for scientists. Even nowadays, despite numerous researches dedicated to this process, the mystery of sleep is still not fully revealed. Nonetheless, scientists have already learned a lot of information about the role and main functions of sleep and its stages.

In this respect, it is necessary to point out that sleep plays an extremely important role in the life of human beings as well as other living beings. Speaking about its functions, it is possible to estimate that one of the main functions of sleep is restorative function for both brain and body. Remarkably, this function of sleep was revealed after numerous experiments and tests on animals, which were deprived of sleep. In the result of numerous metabolic dysfunctions of these animals, scientists made a conclusion about the main function of sleep.

The further researches revealed the fact that sleep is rather complicated process. Basically it may be divided into non-REM and REM sleep (REM – Rapid Eye Movement). Speaking about non-REM sleep it should be said that it accounts for 75-90% of the total sleep time. In fact, non-REM sleep is “an anabolic state marked by physiological processes of growth and rejuvenation of the organism’s immune, nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems” (Mirmiran 1983, p.219). This is why it is hardly possible to underestimate the role of non-REM sleep because it is basically responsible for growth and rejuvenation of vitally important systems of human organism. Moreover, non-REM sleep also contributes to the restoration of neurons and increase of production of brain proteins and certain hormones. In such a way, it plays a very important restorative function.

As for REM sleep, it should be said that this stage is also rather complicated and not less important for human organism. To put it more precisely, REM is responsible for development of organism. Not surprisingly that this stage is also called active sleep. Speaking about the role and function of REM sleep, it is necessary to point out that some extremely important processes, such as memory, highly depend on REM sleep. For instance, in relation to memory, REM sleep “appears to help with the consolidation of spatial and procedural memory, while slow-wave sleep helps with the consolidation of declarative memories” (Mirmiran 1983, p.354).

Furthermore, the importance of REM sleep becomes particularly obvious when it is deprived intentionally or not. It is particularly important for developing organisms. As Mirmiran points out, its “deprivation early in life can result in behavioural problems, permanent sleep disruption, decreased brain mass” (1983, p.397). As a result, REM sleep is particularly important in the development of organism. This function basically distinguishes it from non-REM sleep, which also contribute to the development of organism but the restoration function obviously predominates at this stage.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that both REM and non-REM sleep are absolutely essential for normal development, restoration and functioning of human organism while the deprivation of sleep may have a lot of negative consequences, especially at early stages of development.


1. Carlson, N. Foundations of Physiological Psychology. New York: Routledge, 2005.
2. Mirmiran, M. et al. Effects of experimental suppression of active (rem) sleep during early development upon adult brain and behaviour in the rat. New York: New Publishers, 1983. Can Write an Essay on the Importance of Sleep for You!

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