Do REM cycles vary from person to person?

I have read that REM cycles don’t usually start till about 5 or 6 hours after being asleep and that is when you dream. My DR has been getting better and I can easily remember 3-5 dreams a night but I noticed that sometimes I can remember dreams even after being asleep for only 4 or sometimes less hours. Do the REM cycles vary from person to person?

Yes, it may vary a lot.
For example, using the WILD method means that you get in the REM-cycle in no more than 30 minutes after trying to fall asleep which is far away from the typical 5-6 hours. I would say that this is more self-induced than being a normal evolution.

Could I use this for WBTB? As in, instead of setting my alarm to wake me up 5-6 hours later I could set it to wake me up maybe 4 hours later? The thing is that although I will be tired waking up after 5-6 hours I will quickly become wide awake if I am up for even 5 minutes afterwards. I was thinking that 4 hours might be more effective.


REM is not a cycle, it’s a sleep stage- part of the sleep cycle. the sleep cycle consist of several stages including REM. REM will become longer every time the cycle starts again.

When I said cycle I was thinking more about the fact that the REM phase repeats itself several times during a sleep cycle.

@HedBanger24/7: You need to test it yourself, to see if the 4 hurs are enough. Also you will have to kind of “educate” yourself for best result. For example, I once had 2 very long dreams in less than an hour IRL, so everything is possible, you only have to find the best formula for you.

yup. And the first REM starts after… maybe 2 hours or less, am not sure of the exact time. But it’s also possible to dream in N-REM as well.

Actually, you enter REM approximately 70 to 90 minutes after sleep onset according to the book Exploring The World Of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge.

Here is what a SCIENTIST who studied sleep says about the stages:

"Quiet sleep is itself divided into three substages. Stage 1 is a transitional state between drowsy wakefulness and light sleep, characterized by slow drifting eye movements and vivid, brief dreamlets called hypnagogic imagery.

Stage 2 which is bona fide sleep and is charaterized by unique brain wave patterns called “sleep spindles” and “K-complexes”. Mental activity at this point is sparse, mundane, and thoughtlike.

Typically after twenty to thirty minutes, you sink deeper into “delta sleep” so named after the regular large, slow brain waves that characterize this stage of quiet sleep. Very little dream content is reported from delta sleep.

After gradually entering the deepest stage of delta sleep and lingering there for thirty or forty minutes, you come back up to Stage 2. Approximately seventy to ninety minutes after sleep onset, you enter REM sleep for the first time of the night. After five or ten minutes of REM, and possibly following a brief awakening in which you would likely remember a dream, you sink back into Stage 2 and possibly delta, coming up again for another REM period approximately every ninety minutes and so on through the night.

While learning and practicing lucid dreaming , you should keep in mind two elaborations on this cycle: (1) the length of the REM periods increase as the night proceeds and (2) the intervals between REM periods decrease with time of night, form ninety minutes at the begining of the night to perhaps only twenty to thirty minutes eight hours later."

Is this last bit what you were talking about? I am not sure what all you know and so I just thought I’d type this section from the book mentioned just to make sure the information is there in case anyone needs it.


What Lady_of_the_DreamShip quoted is quite right. I remember when I first ventured into lucid dreaming, to improve dream recall, I concentrated and willed very hard to wake up after each dream I had to write it down. True enough, I woke up around a 3 hours later, which is a multiple of 1.5hrs, which is the length of a typical sleep cycle.

As for REM periods getting longer each cycle, I have also experienced that, because the longest and most vivid dreams I’ve ever recalled all happen in the morning around 7am.

Btw, REM sleep can be in debt, much like money. I realised that because during normal working days, I sleep less than 6 hours. It’s supposed that after 6 hours, the REM part of the cycle becomes significantly longer. So I’ve built up sort of a REM debt. During weekends, I usually make up for it by sleeping 12 hours, and do get a huge increase in the length of a dream as compared to during school holidays where I sleep 9 hours each day and instead, my REM periods go back to normal. Quite useful for getting lucid dreams, but I do not intend to do this. I did it out of necessity.