How to Increase REM Sleep and Improve the Quality of Your Time in Bed
Rapid eye movement sleep, also known as REM sleep, is one of the 4 stages of sleep (along with wake, light, and deep sleep) that your body cycles through on a nightly basis. The REM stage is when you get your “mentally restorative” sleep, and it is when the brain converts short-term memories from the day into long-term ones.
We’ll discuss the value of REM sleep and how much is normal, then share a number of things you can do to improve it. WHY REM SLEEP IS IMPORTANT
REM sleep is essential for keeping your brain and body healthy, and a sufficient amount is required in order to perform at your best. It also plays an important role in mood regulation as well. Additionally, research suggests when people are deprived of REM sleep they are less capable of remembering things they’ve learned prior to falling asleep. “If you’re not getting enough REM sleep, everybody knows what a cranky toddler looks like. We control it better, but adults have that same thing.” DO I NEED MORE REM SLEEP?
Adults should aim to spend about 20-25% of their time asleep in REM sleep, with 90 minutes being what is commonly suggested. The mean for everyone is 105 minutes, with the middle 50% averaging 87-124 minutes of REM per night. WHY AM I NOT GETTING MORE REM SLEEP?
If you have concerns you’re not getting enough REM sleep, these are a few potential causes (outside of sleep disorders) you should make efforts to avoid that often correlate with decreases in REM:
Feeling stressed during the day
Late meals or eating close to sleep time
Screened device usage in bed
Sleeping in a new place or a bed that’s not your own
Alcohol consumption before going to sleep
“Alcohol actually disproportionately crushes REM sleep. You miss your first big REM episode, you miss a lot of slow-wave sleep, and you get a lot of light sleep. You don’t achieve what the point of sleep is actually.” HOW TO INCREASE REM SLEEP
Generally speaking, anything you can do to improve your overall sleep quality, habits, and behaviors will benefit your REM cycle too. The most basic thing is to simply spend more time in bed. Here are 45 tips to sleep better, plus some other suggestions provided by the National Sleep Foundation.
6 WAYS TO IMPROVE REM SLEEP
What follows is a list of several things people often find increase their REM sleep time:
Hydrating properly over the course of the day (not before bed, which can disrupt sleep for trips to the bathroom)
Massage therapy or a steam room that day
Blue-light-blocking glasses before bedtime
Reading in bed (the old-fashioned way) prior to falling asleep
Sleep mask and/or earplugs while sleeping
A sound machine or other white noise during sleep