WHAT is REM sleep?
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is a stage of sleep where your brain is very active and prone to dreaming. During REM sleep, your eyes actually make rapid movements. The amount of REM sleep you get may depend upon age and other factors, with infants spending 50 percent of time in REM and adults spending closer to 20 per cent/ Increased
REM sleep has been shown to improve your memory recall and your overall mental abilities. You may also experience vivid dreams when you are in REM stage of your sleep cycle and may want to prolong your dreams at night.
How do I get more REM sleep?
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Create a sleep schedule where you wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, even on weekends or days off. Sleep requirements vary from person to person, but on average, you should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep. Having a regular sleep schedule will allow you to experience REM sleep more often, as you will cycle between the stages of sleep several times throughout the night during a full seven to nine-hour sleep.
Some people think getting just one less hour of sleep won’t affect their daily functioning or that they can make up for lack of sleep on the weekend or a day off, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Any changes or shifts in your regular sleep schedule will only have a negative effect on your sleeping habits and could lead to less deep sleep or REM sleep.
- Turn off all electronics and distractions a few hours before bed. Shut off your television, smartphone, tablet, and computer or, even better, keep all electronics out of your bedroom completely. The type of light these screens emit can stimulate your brain, suppress the production of melatonin (which encourages REM sleep), and interfere with your body’s internal clock.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Use heavy curtains or shades to block the light from windows. Cover any electronic displays, like TVs or computers so the light does not glow in the room. You can also use a sleep mask to cover your eyes and create a dark space that will help you sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping due to loud noises outside your window or a loud sleep partner, consider investing in good earplugs, or a noise machine.
- Don’t consume caffeine or alcohol four to six hours before your bedtime. About half the caffeine you consume at 7.00pm is still in your body at 11.00pm. Alcohol also prevents deep sleep and REM sleep. It will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep, causing you to possibly wake up easily and have a harder time falling back asleep.
Try to go to bed sleep 30 minutes earlier than usual. Your REM sleep stages are longer in the morning, so try to prolong your REM sleep by adding an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Adjust your bedtime so you go to sleep 30 minutes earlier than usual and then maintain this adjustment in your sleep schedule by doing this every night.