Sleep is one of the most vital aspects of our day. It helps us relax, recover, and distress, making us feel fresh and ready for the next day. REM sleep is the most important part of sleeping, and if you aren’t getting enough of it, here are a few ways to change that.
What is REM Sleep?
In simple terms, REM is the portion of sleeping when we are dreaming, and our bodies are relaxed to the point of being paralyzed. REM has been shown to do wonders for our memories and brain power, as it maintains neural connections, which makes future learning easier and quicker.
How to Get More REM Sleep
Sleep, in general, can be made difficult because of a number of factors. Different mattress sizes, pillows, how dark or light the room is, what we do during the day, and what we eat; all of these aspects affect sleep, and therefore all affect our REM cycle. Here are some ways to change that.
Maintain a Sleep Schedule
The first thing you need to do is have a solid schedule. The biggest problem many people have with their sleep is that it is far too inconsistent. Most of us are guilty of staying up late one night, having to wake up early, then going to bed earlier and waking up later, and the cycle continues.
Pick a time to go to bed and when to wake up, and stick to it. You should be getting between 7 and 8 hours of rest; therefore, adjust that to fit your existing schedule to ensure you always get enough sleep.
Have a Bedtime Routine
A sleep schedule is incomplete with a bedtime routine. Your bedtime routine should include activities that put you in a relaxed state and ready for bed. A calming bath, bedtime yoga, reading; all of these things will relax your mind and body in no time.
Avoid activities that keep your brain active and awake, such as watching a movie or TV show, scrolling on your phone, or gaming. These activities put your brain into overdrive, and while your body might be tired and ready to sleep, your brain won’t let it happen.
Treat Any Sleeping Disorders
Another issue that you may have is an unknown and untreated sleeping disorder. You may suffer from sleep apnea or another disorder that is making it hard to sleep. More often than not, if lifestyle changes don’t help your sleep, you could have an underlying sleeping disorder.
Medication that Affects Sleep
There are many types of medication that can have a negative effect on sleep and REM sleep. Studies have shown that while antidepressants can improve your mood, they impact your brain’s ability to enter into a state of REM sleep.
If you are on any medication, especially something that has been prescribed to you, it is best to speak to your doctor about how it will affect your sleep, as well as if there are any alternatives that don’t have the same side effects.
Many of us might enjoy a cup of tea or hot chocolate before bed or even a nightcap. Many people don’t realize that substances such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol all act as stimulants that keep your brain active and awake.
Alcohol, for instance, may make you feel sleepy, but your brain is still moving at 100 miles per hour. Therefore, it is best to avoid these stimulants in the hours leading up to your bedtime, as something like nicotine can stay in your system and keep you awake for hours after ingestion.
Sleep hygiene is a technical term for the environment in which you sleep. It includes things such as the room temperature, how light or dark it is, how loud or quiet the space is, your sleep schedule and routine, etc.
It is important to remember that sleep is an event that needs outside factors to be just right for it to be the best. There is no use in having a bedtime routine if your room is bright or loud, for example. Make sure your space is comfortable, dark, and quiet, as this will give you the best chance of having great sleep and even better REM sleep.
Have the Right Pillow & Mattress
This goes without saying, but if your mattress is too small or damaged, you won’t get the best sleep. “Damage” doesn’t necessarily mean “broken” either”: it could be lumpy, have uncomfortable dips or some springs aren’t as springy as they once were.
Regarding pillows, use a pillow that keeps your neck, head, and spine in a healthy and comfortable position throughout the night.
Regular exercise is another crucial component to good sleep. If you go the entire day without exercising, your body will have a lot of excess energy that hasn’t been burnt off; this energy will keep you awake and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Exercise, even something as simple as a long walk, will burn this excess energy and make you tired and eventually very sleepy as the night goes on.