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Sleep is a highly organized sequence of events that follows a regular, cyclic program each night. It is controlled and coordinated in the brain and the brain stem. The region of the brain stem, known as the pons, is critical for initiating REM sleep (the dream cycle). The brain stem, which can be compared to a telephone cable with thousands of individual wires or nerve fibers sending signals between the brain and the body, controls nearly all vital, bodily functions.