You may have heard several times about the importance of sleep quality, rather than just how long you should sleep. But how do you achieve that state of sleep that gets you feeling like a million bucks the next morning?
In this article, we are going to be looking at REM sleep and why it should be a priority concerning your health. We will also be sharing some points on how to achieve the quality of sleep that you deserve with some practical tips and pointers.
Let’s dive right in and look at REM sleep, and why it is important for your health.
What Is REM Sleep?
REM (rapid-eye-movement) is also known as 'paradoxical sleep' and is the last stage during your sleep cycle that lasts for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. REM sleep is one of the most important stages because it is responsible for restoring cognitive brain function, including memory and alertness the following day.
During this stage of your sleep, your brain and body go through several different responses, including:
fast and irregular breathing
increased heart rate
increased brain oxygen consumption
twitching of the face and limbs
rapid movement of the eyes
REM sleep is followed by the non-REM stage, which transitions you into this phase of deep sleep. It takes approximately 5 to 6 hours in order for your brain and body to experience this stage during your sleep cycle. Each phase is essential to the recovery of both your mind and body and provides essential benefits that are vital to your health.
What Is Non-REM Sleep?
NREM Sleep - Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep lasts anywhere between 5 minutes at its shortest and 15 minutes at its longest with stages 2 through 3 repeating until REM occurs. During these deep sleeps your body will begin to repair tissues, build muscles, strengthen the immune system as well as grow healthy bones though not while one is dreaming during stage four which takes up about 20% of total time spent on this type of slumbering when it does occur because we're still conscious even. Of course, as the name suggests, there is no rapid-eye-movement as it would occur in REM sleep, and occurs prior to your REM deep sleep cycle.
What Are The Benefits Of Deep Sleep?
What do you think of when you are in need of a good night's sleep?
Not feeling well, working long hours at the office - there may be some indicators that there is something not right with your sleeping habits. Achieving deep sleep can provide your mind with multiple benefits. Let's take a look at what some of these benefits are both physically and mentally.
Physical Benefits Of Deep Sleep
- blood pressure is optimized, your heart rests, and you achieve a relaxed state for recovery.
- Muscles receive more blood supply. This is important because it allows your body to become oxygenated and promotes the proper delivery of nutrients.
- Energy is restored allowing you to feel recharged the following day.
- the Pituitary Gland effectively releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH), therefore allowing the body to repair damaged cells and while supporting muscle growth.
- properly metabolized sugars and fats help regulate body composition.
- you may experience an improvement in sexual performance.
Mental & Psychological benefits
- prevent anxiety and depression by properly optimizing serotonin and overall brain health.
- long-term and short-term memory are developed and restored.
- reduces stress and tension
- mental awareness, attentiveness and focus are restored.
5 Ways You Can Get More REM Sleep
Below, we listed a few ways you can get more REM sleep through the night. In order to get the most out of your sleep, we recommend implementing these best practices together rather than independently.
Have A Regular Bedtime Routine
Our bodies run on a 24-hour cycle and are able to perform at their best when there is consistency and a regular rhythm. This is not only vital for promoting the appropriate hormones to be released, such as cortisol and melatonin, but can allow you to train your mind in such a way that it is able to achieve REM sleep more often.
Having a regular sleep routine can often be difficult for professions such as nurses, who have challenging schedules that involve working night shifts. If this is the case for you, then it is important to do your best in ensuring that you have the best sleeping environment possible, and are looking after your health by implementing a healthy diet, as well as regular exercise.
Ensure You Have A Good Mattress
It is no secret that having a good mattress is one of the keys to a good night’s sleep. Sleeping on an old mattress that has lost its shape can prevent you from getting the proper spinal support it needs, which may cause you to have a restless sleep that is typically caused by back, neck, and shoulder pain.
So, if it's been a while since you last purchased a mattress and are experiencing poor quality sleep due to chronic pain or noise, then it may be time to replace your bed.
Studies have shown that exercising regularly can help improve our quality of sleep by promoting better hormone production as well as cognitive brain function.
It is important to note that exercising right before bed is a bad idea because it can cause an increased heart rate. This can make it difficult to fall asleep and can cause insomnia. Therefore, practicing regular exercise earlier on in the day is always best. Exercise can include anything from 30 minutes of walking, cardio, or lifting weights depending on your fitness goals.
Make Healthy Dietary Choices
Your sleeping environment is just one of many factors when it comes to achieving a proper deep sleep cycle. What you eat has a direct impact on your heart, digestion, and brain function, which all work in conjunction with the way your mind and body recover at night.
Making healthy dietary choices will allow your body to function properly, both during the day and nighttime. You can also avoid eating or drinking right before bedtime in order to avoid sleep disruption which can include things like having to get up to go to the bathroom at night.
Coffee, energy drinks, and foods that are high in sugar content can also prevent you from falling asleep, so make sure you avoid these prior to your bedtime.
Avoid Electronics Before & During Sleep
In a world where we rely heavily on electronics, it can be very challenging to not have them running prior to bedtime. Blue light from watching television, cell phones, and tablets will disrupt your body's ability to prepare for sleep by reducing the amount of melatonin production. Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that is responsible for making you sleepy and preparing your body for a state of rest and relaxation.
Try avoiding watching TV or surfing the internet right before bed and practice reading or listening to relaxing music instead. The ideal time to cut out all electronics prior to bed is 2 hours for the best results.
What Happens When You Don't Get Enough Deep Sleep?
A lack of adequate sleep can weaken your immune system, therefore increasing the chances of multiple diseases.
These include diabetes, cancer, and heart disease as well as obesity which in turn leads to a higher risk for anxiety disorders such as depression or memory loss with vision loss being one possible side effect.
In addition, a lack of sleep can hurt your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Studies have found that the body needs time for recovery while sleeping, which is why a good night’s rest becomes so important when fighting off any virus or cold.
Lastly, weight gain can also be a result of poor sleep habits. If you're not getting enough sleep, your body can't burn off sugars and carbohydrates as well. This means they'll be turned into fat instead of energy! Not only will this lead to weight gain - but it also increases the risk for type 2 diabetes & heart disease.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
The average person sleeps about 75% of the time, while REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep makes up for 25%. Generally speaking, people are advised to get at least 7-8 hours per night if they want their mind and body fully restored without risking any medical issues.
As different people have unique sleep requirements, it is important to identify your individual needs so that you may optimize the benefits of rest and improve your quality of life.
As a person's age progresses they require less deep sleep because their bodies need more energy for growth; however children under 25 years old are in an entirely different category as this stage requires significantly greater amounts due to developmental purposes.
The Bottom Line
Achieving a proper deep sleep cycle can not only help you feel rested the following day but can provide several long-term health benefits. All of our tips and best practices mentioned above should not be implemented independently, but together in order to better your chances of achieving a deep sleep REM cycle. In doing so, you'll be surprised as to how much of an improvement you will experience from getting the rest your body yearns for!