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Here’s what you need to know about REM sleep and why you need it

Published on:8 August 2021, 10:00am IST
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep isn’t just important for our physical health but also has a significant impact on our mental health and memory.
Grace Bains
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sleep
You probably don’t know how important REM sleep is for your health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Getting a good night’s sleep is becoming increasingly difficult, due to factors ranging from stress to excessive caffeine intake. Our fast-paced social and work environments are also factors distorting the sleeping cycle, and its stages, leading to adverse impacts on your health.

While we are aware of our sleep cycle (number of hours one gets to sleep), however, most of us don’t think about various stages of sleep when we get into bed. There are two stages to sleep, REM (rapid eye movement), and NREM (non-rapid-eye movement). A night of sound REM sleep is important to avoid cognitive disabilities, poor focus, and risk of heart diseases.

REM sleep
REM sleep is important for both your physical and mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
REM sleep and its importance

Generally, we keep shifting between the two stages of sleep, about every 90 minutes. During the REM stage of sleep, eyes move rapidly, darting back and forth. The eyelids remain closed throughout, and it is during this time that we tend to dream.

Our muscles become temporarily paralyzed during the REM stage, as it helps prevent us from acting on dreams. The brain activity is through the roof during this stage, and the heart rate, along with the blood pressure levels are also high when experiencing REM sleep.

This is why REM sleep is important

Memory: REM sleep helps process the new information your brain intakes during the day. The information is retained for longer periods when being processed during the REM stage and helps boost memory.

Focus and performance: REM sleep helps improve concentration levels, and reduces stress. The REM stage is the time when the brain is exercising neural connections, and nourishing your motor skills, helping you learn new skills. This ensures that your body has all the right tools to perform at work, sports, or academics.

Health and wellbeing: In case you are not able to get adequate REM sleep, your immune system could take a hit. In fact, the growth of new healthy cells and tissue in the body might also be hampered. Inadequate REM sleep can also contribute to high blood pressure, heart ailments, diabetes, and chronic obesity.

REM sleep
Not getting enough REM sleep can cause various health issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

You can improve your REM sleep by:

  • Follow a bedtime routine, such as reading a book or doing a nighttime skincare routine. This will help you to prepare your brain to anticipate sleep in minutes or hours to follow.
  • The blockage in the upper airway, causing one to snore, is a factor in reducing REM sleep. So, seek help from a medical professional to treat sleep apnea, as it can significantly help in improving REM sleep.
  • Stay away from devices at least 1 to 2 hours before sleeping. The blue light from the device tricks the brain to think that it is daytime, and hence, hampers the overall sleep quality and duration.

So ladies, take your REM sleep seriously, as it will help improve your overall health and energy levels!

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.