REM Sleep is Magical

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health, and the quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is a crucial stage of sleep that has numerous benefits for our overall health and well-being. Let’s talk about the benefits and importance of REM sleep.

What is REM Sleep?
REM Sleep is MagicalREM sleep is a stage of sleep that occurs approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. During this stage, the brain becomes more active, and the eyes move rapidly. It is during REM sleep that we experience vivid dreams. REM sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being as it provides numerous benefits.
What are the benefits of REM Sleep?
  • Improves memory and learning – During REM sleep, the brain processes and consolidates the information that we have learned throughout the day. This consolidation of memory helps us to retain and recall information better. It also helps prepare and maintain neural connections to improve future learning.
  • Plays a key role in brain development – Did you know that the brain is still developing until you are about 25 years old? Adequate sleep during childhood and young adulthood is crucial to get the most out of our brain for our lifetime. Kids need a lot more sleep than adults and part of the reason is to help with brain development.
  • Improved emotional processing and creativity – Studies have shown that people who get enough REM sleep have better emotional regulation and are better equipped to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Improves recovery from stressful events – Research has found that obtaining large amounts of REM sleep after a traumatic event may reduce the chances of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Physical restoration – REM sleep is crucial for physical restoration. During this stage of sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues, and the immune system is strengthened. Adequate REM sleep can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve overall physical health. It may lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even early death.
  • Beneficial effects on weight – REM sleep helps protect against obesity by helping to regulate certain hormones in the body.
How much REM sleep do you need?
Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Children need more sleep. You can see the recommendations here: Are You Getting Enough Sleep? ( Your body regulates itself to maintain a balanced level of sleep stages within the time you are asleep, with REM sleep making up around 20-25% of your total time asleep.
What can affect REM sleep?
Some underlying conditions, such as depression or insomnia, can affect the length or quality of REM sleep. Some medications can suppress REM sleep, including medications to help you sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause interruptions in sleep that reduce the amount of time spent in REM sleep. And of course, not getting enough sleep decreases REM sleep.
How can you maximize your REM sleep?
  • Establish a consistent sleep routine – One of the best ways to maximize your REM sleep is to establish a consistent sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and improves the quality of your sleep.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment where you sleep – Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your sleep posture.
  • Avoid using electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the bedroom, particularly in bed. Also avoid using these devices before bedtime outside the bedroom, as the blue light they emit can interfere with sleep.
  • Exercise regularly – Exercise during the day helps drive your sleep at night.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Alcohol can delay REM sleep onset and cause you to spend less time in REM overall. Caffeine and tobacco can also interfere with the normal progression through sleep stages. Cut down or avoid them altogether, particularly late afternoon through bedtime.
  • Treat sleep disorders – If you are concerned you might have a sleep disorder, talk with your doctor about getting tested.
  • Avoid sleep aid medications – If these are prescribed by your doctor, talk with your doctor about the risks vs. benefits and find out if there are other options.
I think you will find that getting enough REM sleep can be magical for your health and overall well-being.
If you have any questions about REM sleep, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

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