Spontaneous eyelid movements (ELMS) during sleep are related to dream recall on awakening Academic Article uri icon


  • The present study aimed to test whether spontaneous eyelid movements (ELMs) during stage 2 and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are related to more frequent and vivid reports of visual mentation on awakening. Participants were awakened 15 s after an ELM was observed during ongoing REM and stage 2 sleep and immediately asked for a mentation report and to rate the visual vividness of any imagery they could remember. These reports were compared with control reports collected after a period of ELM quiescence before awakening (noELM). Significantly greater frequencies of imagery reports were collected after ELM awakenings compared with noELM awakenings from stage 2, but not REM sleep. When imagery was reported, imagery ratings were not significantly different between ELM and noELM conditions, regardless of sleep stage. The average amount of electroencephalogram (EEG) arousal 15 s after stage 2 awakenings was significantly higher in the ELM compared with noELM conditions. In addition, within the stage 2 ELM condition, EEG arousal was significantly higher when visual imagery was reported compared with reports without imagery; suggesting that the observed increase in imagery reporting from the stage 2 ELM condition could have been mediated by the level of brain arousal. Such arousal possibly provides better conditions to attend and recall previous mental activity from NREM sleep. However, there was no ELM/arousal effect within REM sleep, possibly because this state is already at maximum sleeping levels of arousal, attention and resulting dream recall.

publication date

  • June 2004