Simple TIPS to get more REM Sleep each night!

Sleep plays a very critical role in shaping our overall health. A slight lack of it can have very serious repercussions on your productivity, health, and emotional balance. Unfortunately, many of us often struggle to attain the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Since the amount of energy used during your waking hours is dependent on the quality and amount of sleep you get at night, we must look for ways to boost the amount of REM sleep that we get each night.

For starters, REM refers to rapid eye movement and it is one of the stages in everyone’s sleep cycle [1]. We’ll talk more about this later.

Given that daytime activities are hinged on the quality of sleep that we get at night, it’s safe to say that the only way to cure our sleeping problems should start by fixing our daily habits. Unhealthy daily routines and bad lifestyle choices are the main factors that deny us quality sleep each night.

Experiment with some of the discussed simple tips on how to get more REM sleep and you’ll be on your way to improving your health and productivity.

Before we jump to how you can optimize the quality of your sleep, let us discuss what REM sleep is.

What is REM Sleep?

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is the fifth and final stage in both mammalian and avian sleeping cycles. It normally occurs after about 90 minutes after one has fallen asleep.

During this stage, the body usually experiences low muscle tone, an increased propensity to dream, and very rapid (but random) eye movements [1]. REM sleep normally stimulates the part of the brain that controls learning and often causes intense dreams.

It’s usually very hard to wake up someone who is already in this sleeping stage.

How Much REM Sleep Do You Need?

REM sleep is one of the healthiest stages of sleep because it enables the body to rejuvenate. It is the only stage where dreams commonly occur, enabling you to process your emotions as well as solidify memories [2].

However, the recommended amount of REM sleep is currently still uncertain. In general, REM sleep only accounts for at least 20%-25% of sleep in adults [3] and 50% in babies. On average, these amounts equate to a healthy standard amount of REM sleep for any sleeping cycle.

How to Get More REM Sleep

Here are our simple tips to help you get more REM sleep each night:

Expose yourself more often to bright light during the day

The human body has a time-keeping system referred to as the circadian rhythm, which broadly affects brain functions and hormone production. Concerning REM sleep, this special system is what informs your body when it’s time to either sleep or wake up.

Therefore, it’s the first step that initiates sleep and prepares your body for REM sleep.
Sleeping studies and surveys have continually shown that an increase in daytime exposure to bright light boosts the health of circadian rhythm as well as the quality and duration of sleep [4] [5] [6].

According to one study’s findings published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database [7], adults who spent an extra two hours of the daytime in bright light increased their sleeping duration by an additional two hours, and their sleeping efficiency spiked to 80%.

This finding suggests that in order for you to get more REM sleep each night, you should consider getting some additional exposure to sunlight each day. In cases where this isn’t practical, consider using artificial bright lamps to boost the quality of your sleep.

This is practically one of the most efficient and simplest ways to get more REM sleep, especially if you’re dealing with insomnia or any other sleeping problems.

Limit your exposure to blue light at night

Unlike the previous tip, exposure to bright light at night negatively affects the quality of our sleep. Exposure to bright light – especially blue light – at night, tricks the biological time-keeping system (circadian rhythm) into thinking that it’s still daytime [8].

Blue light typically refers to the light emitted from electronic screens such as the one on your smartphone, computer, and TV.

Prolonged exposure to this kind of light at night restricts the production of important hormones such as melatonin, which helps the body to relax and initiate REM sleep [4].

To help you reduce exposure to this type of light at night, consider avoiding binge-watching and staring into your phone at least two hours before bedtime. You can also download software and apps that help to block blue light from your computer, tablet, and smartphone.

Avoid drinking coffee in the evening

Coffee is one of the most popular caffeinated drinks in the world, and nearly 90% of Americans use it to boost their energy, productivity, and focus [9]. Studies show that a dose of caffeine can last up to six or eight hours in the body [10].

Based on this finding, you must stay clear of drinking coffee during the late hours before bed. Consumption of any caffeinated drink in the evening stimulates the nerves and makes it hard to get more REM sleep.

It’s scientifically proven that drinking coffee six hours before retiring to bed significantly degrades the quality of your sleep [10]. Consider drinking a decaffeinated drink in replace of a cup of coffee in the evening.

Avoid taking long naps during the day

Napping during the day commonly results in higher brain functioning, especially if it’s limited to roughly 30 minutes [11]. Unlike these beneficial short power naps, longer ones have the potential to impair the quality of your sleep and deprive you of REM sleep [12].

Even though the effects of napping differentiate from person to person, long irregular daytime naps confuse the biological clock and make it difficult to get REM sleep at night [13].

Other studies concur on this and suggest that you should avoid taking long naps during the day, that is if you want to get more REM sleep each time [14] [15]. You shouldn’t worry much if you’re taking regular short naps because they don’t interfere with the quality and health of your sleep.

Create a sleeping routine

Just like how practice makes perfect, following your sleeping routine consistently helps to boost your REM sleep [16]. This consistency enables your circadian rhythm to tighten its set loop and in turn improve the quality of your sleep.

Several studies on sleeping behavior [17] [18] notes that irregular sleeping patterns hinder the production of melatonin and in turn worsens the health of your sleep in the long run.
Creating and following a good sleeping routine helps keep your internal clock in check and boosts the amount of REM sleep you get each night. Who knows, you might end up not needing an alarm to wake you up anymore.

Conclusion

The quality of our sleep plays an important role in shaping our overall health. The lack of quality sleep is known to cause obesity, diabetes, and low productivity. REM sleep stands out as one of the most critical sleeping stages that help the body to relax and rejuvenate each night. If you’re currently struggling with any sleeping problems, simply use any of the above simple tips to get more REM sleep each night. Just remember to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks and exposing yourself to blue light before bedtime. Sleep tight and good night!

Citations

  1. https://www.sleephealth.org/sleep-health/importance-of-sleep-understanding-sleep-stages
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956
  4. https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/biology-of-sleep-circadian-rhythms-sleep-stages.htm
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6165549
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248534256
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12789673
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16120101
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15635355
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24235903
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17053484
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21463024
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22659474
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18691289
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11763827
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12941057
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12220314
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10849238
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