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I wake up during the night. Is there an easy way to tell whether I've woken up during REM or non-REM sleep?

One way could be to look up the time, calculate how long I've slept and then take into account that, "An adult reaches REM approximately every 90 minutes"...

Are there other ways?

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I tagged dreams here too because I think that's a prominent characteristic of REM sleep that might help you judge this. If I'm wrong, please remove the tag...but I don't think people remember dreams as often when they wake during non-REM sleep. That might be one cue, though I'm not certain of this.

Another idea off the top of my head would be recording yourself. Since REM = "rapid eye movement", you could probably tell whether you were in that stage before awakening if you trained a digital video recorder on your face (e.g., over your head, attached to a bedpost or headboard, aimed down at your face), and happen to sleep facing up sometimes. Rapid eye movements are noticeable through eyelids (kinda looks like a cat moving around underneath bedsheets—the raised hemispherical shape shifts around a lot), so given a decently high-resolution video recording of yourself, you could probably check this upon waking, or whenever afterward. If you don't see much eye movement, you might guess that you're not in REM sleep, though I'm not 100% sure you could make this judgment without error by yourself.

A relatively foolproof third option would be to sign up for a sleep study! I believe they routinely monitor brain waves that are more definitional, physiological markers of sleep stages. That might cost you, though.

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+1 thanks for your ideas: 1. Since I want to judge whether my dreams come from REM or non-REM sleep, this drops out. I should have written this, sorry. 2. I would need a nightvision camera, but it sounds interesting. 3. Since this is my own sleep study I can't sign up somewhere else... – draks ... Feb 12 '14 at 6:25
Good points. That does make this a bit more challenging! – Nick Stauner Feb 12 '14 at 7:04

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