More than its health benefits, the quality of your sleep has a strong connection on how much your brain can retain memories. The REM or “rapid eye movement” sleep, also known as the “mentally restorative” stage of sleep, is responsible for processing short-term information to become long-term memories.
Completing 7-9 hours of sleep would not be good enough if you are not getting the right amount of REM sleep that you need. Usually, a person can have 90-110 minutes of REM but it can become difficult to achieve due to certain factors. Getting into this stage of sleep will help lessen the grogginess in the morning, making you feel more refreshed. In this article, we will help you how you can get more of it.
What are the different stages of sleep?
There are four different stages of sleep that a person can go through every night which are divided into two types: the non-REM and the REM. These types of sleep can be differentiated by the movement of your eyes under your eyelids.
The first stage is the “wake stage” which is basically falling asleep. At this stage, it would be very easy to wake you up because you are just about to enter the sleep stage. As you transition from wakefulness to sleep, you will now experience the “light sleep” stage wherein your heart rate will decrease and your muscles will relax.
Your sleep will eventually progress into a “deep sleep” stage which is also a restorative phase of sleep. At this point, cell repair and tissue growth occurs. You might also feel drowsy or groggy when your “deep sleep” is interrupted.
The last stage, which is also responsible for having dreams, is the “REM sleep.” An increased brain activity, respiration rate, and eye movement are the characteristics of this stage. Although the brain is very active at this phase, the muscles are immobilized to prevent you from making movements while dreaming.
These stages can go on a cycle until you wake up.
Why should I have more REM sleep?
As mentioned, REM sleep will help you remember information effectively. Reaching this stage of sleep will help you improve learning capabilities and memory, according to research. For athletes, REM is important for them to retain the technical skills they trained for during the day. Infants also have more REM sleep than adults as this type of sleep plays an important role in the development of their Central Nervous System.
There are also known consequences of having lack of REM sleep such as forgetfulness, migraines, weight gain, and reduced capability to cope with challenging situations. Professionals also note that having inadequate amounts of REM sleep is also a sign of sleep deprivation which can be linked to certain diseases such as heart ailments, diabetes, and cancer.
How can I have more REM sleep?
REM sleep, while naturally achievable, can be improved by doing the following:
Stick to a regular bedtime schedule
Having a regular sleep schedule will help you fall asleep easily, preventing you to spend time forcing yourself to feel sleepy through unhealthy mechanisms such as endless phone-scrolling. A consistent sleep time will also help you regulate your body clock and avoid getting sleepy during the day, especially when you need to be active.
The release of sleep hormones such as cortisol, which keeps us awake at day, and melatonin, keeping us asleep at night, can also be increased by sticking into a habitual bedtime schedule.
Try to remove anything that may cause interruption to your sleep. You can choose a softer mattress or blanket, add black-out curtains in your room, or place your gadgets far from your bed to avoid midnight calls. These small things can affect the way you sleep. Make your room more cozy so you can have a restful sleep every night.
Turning the lights off can also help in getting your body ready for a rest as sleep hormones respond to light and darkness as its signal.
Think before your drink
You may want to avoid drinking too much water before sleeping as this may send you to frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. Also, drinking caffeine-infused beverages will make it hard to fall asleep. Although drinking alcohol can get you to sleep faster, studies show that it can reduce the quality of your sleep. Meanwhile, some people drink chamomile tea to help them relax before they go to bed.
A quality sleep is also one of exercise’s known health benefits. How? Researchers pointed out that exercise can help you relax your mind and stabilize your mood which is essential when transitioning to sleep. However, you should avoid doing aerobic activities three hours before going to sleep as endorphins, the hormones released during exercise, can keep you awake. You also have to do it persistently to deliver results.