One thing that we do not really take seriously at every stage of our life is sleep. Whether we have planned a night out with friends, have a lot of pending office work, or exam season is around the corner, we compromise on our sleep without a second thought. This ignorance towards the significance of sleep can make us prone to developing diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and depression.
During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, we can have intense dreams due to high brain activity. 90 minutes into sleeping, we enter the first period of REM where our eye movement, pulse rate, blood pressure, and heartbeat increase. In a study done by researchers at the University of Toronto, it was observed that REM sleep is extremely important for overall learning and memory.
Below we have mentioned 8 useful tips for getting more REM sleep;
1. Quit Smoking
While smoking can speed up your natural ageing process, it can also cause sleep-related disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and sleep fragmentation. In a recent study led by researchers at University Medical Center, Freiburg, it was indicated that nicotine consumption can cause REM sleep suppression.
If you are a THC consumer, you might be having fewer dreams than usual. This is because cannabis increases deep sleep and sleep latency but reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. An imbalance in the sleep stages sure has consequences. In a study at the University of Pittsburgh, experts found that reduced REM sleep is interlinked with overweight in children and adolescents. Less REM sleep can also cause anxiety and chronic depression.
Quitting marijuana promotes REM rebound. It means if you all of a sudden stop consuming cannabis, you will experience an intense increase in REM sleep.
Physical activity has a lot to do with your sleep quality. Most studies have shown that people who exercise regularly get a proper amount of sleep and a good night’s rest. Adults who spend most of their time sitting can experience poor sleep quality and sleep-related disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Sleep disruptions can also further cause anxiety disorders and worsen your mental and physical health.
Exercising can also prevent overweight and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. If you want to sleep well, move your body around and do not miss an opportunity for physical activity.
3. Follow a Routine
It is extremely healthy to follow a routine in our daily lives. It not only makes it easier to manage tasks but also improves your sleep. Setting a bedtime routine can increase the amount of sleep and thus maximize the number of REM sleep stages at night. Go to bed early and wake up at the same time every day. This will prepare your mind and body to sleep.
Research suggests that getting less REM sleep can affect the mind’s ability to remember what was taught and to learn new things. Thus if you are experiencing difficulty in learning, try following a bedtime routine.
4. Make Your Bed Comfier
As basic as it may sound, the mattress and the pillows you use greatly impact your sleep quality as well as quantity. If you are someone who suffers from back pain and your mattress feels too hard or stiff, you will wake up frequently during your sleep due to discomfort. Sleep disruptions can increase stress responsivity and reduce the quality of life.
Not feeling comfortable on your mattress will also prevent you from entering REM sleep. Hence you should buy a mattress that is to your liking and as per your needs. The best Australian mattresses provide the best tips and guidelines for finding a mattress that is suitable for you and your partner (if any).
5. Reduce Caffeine Consumption
A study suggests that caffeine intake before bedtime reverses the normal sleep cycle. Normally, you first enter non-REM sleep and later move on to the REM sleep stage. Drinking caffeine will make you enter the REM first. Researchers suggest avoiding caffeine 6 hours before your bedtime to improve your sleep quality and to prevent the sleep cycle from inverting.
Other harmful effects of excessive caffeine consumption include decreased sleep efficiency, slow-wave sleep, and sleep duration. Sleep deprivation minimizes REM sleep stages and adversely affects your cognitive capabilities.
6. Stop Drinking (Alcohol)
Drinking excessive alcohol has a lot of harmful effects like the development of heart and liver diseases. But how does alcohol affect your sleep quality? Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director at London Sleep Center, U.K explains that while alcohol can help you fall asleep faster than usual, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Consumption of alcohol can cause shortness in breathing and can cause sleep apnea due to sleep disruptions in the second half of the night. Thus to get more REM sleep and to enhance your memory, you need to reduce alcohol intake.
7. Environment Matters
Bright lights can significantly impact your sleep quality. Before you go to your bed, make sure there are no loud sounds in the background and that the temperature is moderate. Turn off bright lights in the room as they can interrupt your sleep and switch off your phone so that you are not disturbed by incoming texts or calls during the night.
8. Consult a Medical Advisor
If following the above tips still does not help you in getting the necessary amount of REM sleep and you feel agitated, it’s high time you go to a doctor or consult your medical advisor. Certain medical conditions such as Lewy body dementia can be associated with REM sleep behavior disorder.
The upshot of all this is that one needs a healthy lifestyle to sleep well and to boost metabolism which is a fair deal. Make sure that you do not ignore the health problems that might appear from time to time and set up a schedule to make your life easier.