What Is REM Sleep?

Sleeping is trivial. You just lie down, close your eyes, and wake up hours later. Well, at least that’s what most people experience.

Sleeping is actually a complicated mechanism. Your brain goes into four different stages when you close your eyes. There’s stage 1,2,3, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement). Among these four stages, the REM stage is the one that gets the most attention. But why?

What does it mean to be in REM sleep?

The REM stage is when we have rapid eye movements (REMs), irregular respiration, and irregular heart rate. This is also the stage when we get the most vivid dreams. Often times, REM periods are accompanied by muscle paralysis. It’s a protective means so we don’t trash around as we dream.

Each night, we usually get 3 to 5 cycles of REM sleep at 1 to 2 hours intervals. Each REM cycle can last up to over an hour.

Why is REM sleep important?

REM sleep is important because this stage activates the areas of the brain that are important in creating memories, retaining memories, and learning.

How much REM sleep do I need?

Need for what? If you want to feel well-rested after sleeping, what you need is actually the deep sleep stage or stage 3. When it’s exam week and you need every help you can get to retain everything you’ve learned so far, then you do need more of that REM sleep.

All of that said, it’s best if you think of sleeping as a whole instead of focusing on which stage you need more. Adults need 6 to 8 hours of sleep a day. Try to get that much and you’ll be OK.

How do I get more REM sleep?

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OK, to extend your REM sleep cycle, you need to stay away from alcohol and nicotine. That means no drinks or cigarettes.

You also need to exercise.  Doing physical activities is an essential factor when you want more REM sleep. Try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of workout a day. It doesn’t have to be rigorous. A walk around the neighborhood after dinner counts too.

If you still need help to get a good night sleep, try listening to ambient sounds. Many people enjoy the relaxing sound of nature and it lulls them straight to dreamland. Seriously, there are many relaxing ambient sounds over at ambient-mixer.com. Grab the ones you like and play them as you go to bed. You’ll not only improve your dose of REM sleep but also the deep sleep stage that’ll make you feel refreshed in the morning.

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