Is REM Sleep Simply A Thermostatic Brain-Warming Mechanism?


I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Jul 19, 2004
Out of Bounds
This is an interesting hypothesis. A UCLA researcher notes correlations between brain / body temperature and REM sleep, then suggests REM phases may be the body's way of heating a brain that's grown too cold from inactivity.
REM Sleep May Exist to Heat Your Brain Up From The Inside

Even if the content of your dreams isn't hot or steamy, slipping into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep might still warm you up from the inside, according to a new review.

In nature, warm-blooded creatures with lower body temperatures tend to have longer periods of REM sleep; while those with higher body temperatures, like birds, experience less REM sleep overall.

Neurologist and leading sleep scientist Jerome Siegel, from the University of California Los Angeles, argues the association is noteworthy and should be investigated further.

Siegel argues REM sleep might be sort of "like shivering for the brain" when brain and body temperatures drop too low during non-REM sleep.

During REM the brain becomes highly active, which raises the temperature of the organ. What's more, REM sleep almost always follows non-REM sleep, which is when the brain and body are least active and cold.

"REM sleep might be thought of as a thermostatically controlled brain-heating mechanism, which is triggered by the temperature reduction linked to the reduced metabolism and the decrease in energy consumption in non-REM sleep," writes Siegel.

"Then, REM sleep ends after the amount of REM required to raise brain temperature to close to the waking temperature of the body has occurred." ...