dreaming while awake


2005-10-20

A human being dreams about every 90 minutes during sleep. If those dream (REM) phases are disrupted, the human becomes ill very soon. But what happens during the day?

Do we dream every 90 minutes, even while awake? Or would our brain use this time to dream if we let it? What health benefits might it have if we let our mind dream every 90 minutes? Daydreaming, a short nap, whatever.

Interesting here is the period of 90 minutes. This time frame repeats in other things also: Children are daid to have a 90 minute time-window when the are likely to fall asleep easily. Miss that window and you'll have a hyperactive kid for the next 90 min.

I was already wondering how this 90 min period we all seem to have fits in with the 3 hour rule. (Where you need a continuous block of 3 hours uninterruoted work time to be productive.) That would be two of those 90 min cycles.

and now I read about polyphasic sleep. How does that fit in?

[update:] more about the 90 minute thing on lifehack.org

: The 90 minute sleep cycle.

What I find most interesting here is the observation that only multiples of 90 minutes are refreshing. 4 hours of sleep for example are less refreshing than 3! There's one broken sleep cycle at the end of those 4 hours...

Quoting the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies:

"Studies show that the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking. The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy. Each sleep cycle contains five distinct phases, which exhibit different brain- wave patterns. For our purposes, it suffices to say that one sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes: 65 minutes of normal, or non-REM (rapid eye movement), sleep; 20 minutes of REM sleep (in which we dream); and a final 5 minutes of non-REM sleep. The REM sleep phases are shorter during earlier cycles (less than 20 minutes) and longer during later ones (more than 20 minutes). If we were to sleep completely naturally, with no alarm clocks or other sleep disturbances, we would wake up, on the average, after a multiple of 90 minutes--for example, after 4 1/2 hours, 6 hours, 7 1/2 hours, or 9 hours, but not after 7 or 8 hours, which are not multiples of 90 minutes. In the period between cycles we are not actually sleeping: it is a sort of twilight zone from which, if we are not disturbed (by light, cold, a full bladder, noise), we move into another 90-minute cycle. A person who sleeps only four cycles (6 hours) will feel more rested than someone who has slept for 8 to 10 hours but who has not been allowed to complete any one cycle because of being awakened before it was completed.... "

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