First, give yourself three minutes to read this article:

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep makes up about 20% of our overall sleep cycle, and is the stage of our sleep when most of our dreams occur. Its significance in human well-being has attracted a lot of attention in scientific research over the past few decades. This unique part of the sleep cycle benefits our physical and mental health in three important ways.

Firstly, REM sleep is closely associated with brain functions such as learning and memory. During this kind of sleep, several parts of the brain experience high levels of activity. Studies suggest that this activity helps us process and organize information acquired throughout the day and contributes to the formation of long-term memories. Individuals who consistently achieve sufficient REM sleep are often better equipped to retain new information, have better problem-solving skills, and exhibit improved overall intellectual performance.

Secondly, REM sleep is critically important to emotional well-being and mood regulation. The dreams we experience during REM sleep help the brain to process and make sense of emotions experienced while we are awake. Dreams serve as a form of emotional release and a mechanism for coping with unresolved issues. Adequate REM sleep has been linked to reduced stress levels, lower anxiety, and an overall more positive mood. Disruptions in REM sleep, on the other hand, may contribute to emotional instability and an increased likelihood of depression and other mood disorders.

Additionally, REM sleep is necessary to maintain a healthy balance between time spent sleeping and time spent being awake. This is because REM sleep contributes to the regulation of our internal clock. Over time, this ensures that we get just enough sleep to optimize our energy levels, and enhance our overall functioning. Likewise, it prevents us from oversleeping, which could interfere with our daily lives.

Next, listen to the following lecture:


You have twenty minutes to answer the following question.  You can see to the article as you write your essay.  You may not listen to the lecture again.

Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they oppose specific points made in the reading passage.

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Sample Response

Here is a sample essay:

The reading and lecture are both about REM sleep.  While the author of the article presents several benefits of this stage of the sleep cycle, the lecturer challenges the author’s claims. 

First, the author argues that REM sleep helps us process information acquired throughout the day and makes it easier to form long-term memories.  According to the article, people who get a lot of REM sleep are better intellectual abilities.  The lecturer, however, notes that other stages of the sleep cycle might be just as important, or more important, as REM sleep when it comes to our intellectual abilities.  He notes that attributing this entirely to REM sleep might not capture the true complexity of the human brain.

Next, the article points out that dreams that occur during REM sleep help us to maintain our mood and emotional well-being.  It mentions that people who get plenty of REM sleep are more positive, while people who do not get enough REM sleep might suffer from mood disorders.  In contrast, the lecturer points out that dreams are not always positive.  Sometimes they can be distressing and could actually have a negative impact on our emotional well-being.

Finally, the author argues that REM sleep helps us maintain a proper balance between sleeping and being awake.  The article says that over time it ensures that we get enough sleep to maintain our energy levels without oversleeping.  The lecturer doesn’t agree with this claim.  He points out that we all know people who have irregular sleep patterns without much REM sleep who still have lots of energy and are able to function just fine in their day to day lives.  He suggests that this means we might not need regular REM sleep in order to function effectively.

In conclusion, the article and lecture are both about the possible benefits of REM sleep.  The author presents three possible benefits, while the lecturer presents counterarguments to the author’s claims.