10 Ways to Improve REM Sleep

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When sleeping, our bodies go through stages. There are four stages in total. Stages one through three being non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and the fourth stage being rapid eye movement (REM). NREM stage one lasts 5-10 minutes, the moment you are dozing off into sleep. Stage two is when your heart starts to slow, body temperature drops, and your brain produces sleep spindles. This lasts about twenty minutes. Stage three is when muscles relax, blood pressure and breathing patterns drop, and your deepest sleep is happening. And lastly, the fourth stage is REM, the stage where your brain wakes up again, dreams start, and as the name says, your eyes start moving rapidly. REM sleep is important to your sleep cycle because it stimulates the areas of your brain that are essential in learning and making or retaining memories. Starting at about 90 minutes from when you fall asleep, there are things that can hinder this process, but, there are ways to improve this stage in sleep, read more to find out how (here are our tips for better general sleep as well):

Sleep Schedule

Having a set sleep schedule is important, not only for your overall health but for your sleep health as well. The Sleep Foundation advises everyone to sleep at the same time every day (even on the weekends!). Sleeping at different times every day disrupts your body from allowing you to fall into REM.

Hydrate

Staying hydrated is important to do throughout the day to keep your body working at its fullest potential, but it’s important to know when to stop. Drink the bulk of water during the earlier parts of the day so that you aren’t drinking too many liquids before bed in order to be able to stay asleep throughout the night and not have to get up often to use the restroom.

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Supplements

REM sleep is started by the neurotransmitter GABA. Not having enough of it can be caused by not having enough magnesium in your body system. By simply taking a magnesium supplement, you can begin to see positive effects on your sleep schedule.

Exercise

Exercising, as we all know, takes a lot of energy. By doing so, you can use a lot of energy before bed leaving you tired, allowing you to fall into a deeper sleep more easily than if you hadn’t. We’ve listed 10 great free at-home workouts here.

Sleep Disorders

There are several different sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and more. It’s important to get those diagnosed and treated in order to be able to carry out a good sleep schedule that will, in turn, allow you a better NREM and REM sleep.

Massage Therapy

Many different factors pile up to cause irregular sleep schedules- stress being a major one. Massages can help reduce the amount of cortisol, a hormone that causes stress while increasing the amount of serotonin and dopamine. Massages can also help you feel more relaxed which will help you fall asleep easily.

Smoking

Smoking, specifically marijuana, can disrupt REM sleep cycles. This is because when smoking marijuana, you fall into deeper sleeps. In fact, long term use has shown negative effects on the REM cycle. Reduced use or quitting will help your body fall into REM cycles easier.

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Sleep aids

Sleep aids, such as melatonin, can help your body fall asleep and begin the NREM and REM stages easily. Found to decrease sleep latency and increase total sleep time, investing in melatonin can help improve REM sleep.

Reading

Reading before bed is a great and easy way to ease into sleep. Just do your nightly routine, grab your favorite book (that won’t keep you itching to find out what happens next!), turn the lights low, and begin reading. Slowly but surely, in a relaxed state, you’ll begin to feel drowsy and fall asleep.

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Essential Oils

A study found that using the aromatherapy of lavender significantly improved the sleep quality of its members. Found to ease anxiety and depression, lavender helps calm the nervous system, allowing your body to indulge into REM. If you want to try other essential oils, just make sure to do your research on them, as some can do the opposite of getting you sleepy (like eucalyptus!).

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