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How to Get More REM Sleep

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/08/2024

Improving REM sleep naturally promotes deep and rejuvenating sleep while supporting overall health.

Understanding the different sleep stages is essential for finding successful strategies to promote healthy sleep.

Discover how you can enhance the quality of your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stages without relying on medication or artificial aids.

Understanding REM Sleep

REM sleep is a vital part of the sleep cycle that impacts mental restoration, recollection, and overall brain functions.

During this phase, brain activity increases and resembles an awake state while muscle tone decreases.

Temperature sensitivity also rises during REM sleep, making it essential to maintain optimal room conditions for uninterrupted rest.

Mental repair during REM sleep

Mental repair processes occur primarily during REM sleep, contributing to emotional regulation and cognitive functioning.

This helps process information from daily experiences into long-term memories and aids problem-solving skills.

Additionally, dreaming occurs predominantly during this stage as our brains work through emotions and complex thoughts.

Man sleeping

Differences between NREM and REM stages

  • NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep: This stage consists of three phases - light sleep (N1), more profound relaxation (N2), and deep slow-wave or delta-wave slumber (N3). Most physical restoration happens here with reduced heart rate, blood pressure levels, breathing rates & body temperatures.

  • REM Sleep: The final phase where most mental recovery occurs due to increased brain activity similar to being awake but with paralyzed muscles preventing movement. This period lasts longer as the night progresses, allowing more time for dreams & cognitive processing.

Importance Of Optimal Temperature for Healthy REM Sleep

During REM sleep, temperature sensitivity increases, making it crucial to maintain ideal room conditions for uninterrupted restorative slumber.

Experiment with different blanket thicknesses or materials until you find what works best.

Factors Affecting Ideal Sleeping Temperatures

Finding the optimum sleeping temperature depends on several aspects, such as age, body mass, humidity, and personal comfort.

According to the Sleep Foundation, most sleep comfortably at around 65°F (18°C). However, some may prefer slightly warmer or cooler environments based on their unique needs.

  • Age: Older adults may require warmer room temperatures for optimal sleep quality.

  • Body weight: People with higher body fat percentages might feel comfortable in more relaxed rooms.

  • Humidity levels: Adjust your thermostat settings to balance warmth and moisture in the air.

Tips on Choosing A Suitable Blanket

Selecting the correct type of blanket is crucial for achieving a good night's rest.

  1. Fabric type: Evaluate different fabric options like cotton, woolen blends, or synthetic fibers such as polyester, depending on your preference for softness or breathability.

  2. Weight: Consider investing in a heavier blanket if you prefer feeling enveloped in a cozy cocoon while sleeping. Alternatively, opt for lighter options if you're prone to overheating during the night.

  3. Maintenance: Choose materials that are easy to clean and maintain per your lifestyle requirements.

Boosting Acetylcholine Levels to Promote REM Sleep

Balanced acetylcholine levels are crucial for a healthy nervous system and quality sleep, and vitamin B1 can help increase production.

Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is essential for synthesizing neurotransmitters like acetylcholine that regulate brain function and communication between nerve cells.

Sources of Vitamin B1 for Better Sleep

Boost your vitamin B1 intake with nutritional yeast, pork, fish, and nuts to enhance your REM sleep naturally.

  • Nutritional yeast: Sprinkle on salads or mix with smoothies for an easy nutrient boost.

  • Pork: Provides high concentrations of this vital nutrient.

  • Fish: Trout and salmon are excellent sources of vitamin B1 and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Seeds and nuts: Sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, and pistachios are excellent sources of thiamine.

Can't Sleep at Night Even When Tired?

If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall asleep even when you feel tired, you're not alone.

There are many reasons why people have trouble sleeping despite feeling exhausted.

Sleep Disorders

One of the most common reasons for difficulty falling or staying asleep is a sleep disorder. Conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy can all disrupt your normal sleep cycle and prevent you from getting the restful sleep your body needs.

If you suspect a sleep disorder may be causing your nighttime troubles, it's essential to talk to a healthcare professional who can help diagnose and treat the issue.

Poor Sleep Hygiene

Your habits leading up to bedtime can also affect how well you can fall asleep once your head hits the pillow.

Poor "sleep hygiene" practices like consuming caffeine too late in the day or using electronic devices right before bed can suppress REM sleep and make it harder for your brain to wind down and relax.

Stress and Anxiety

Mental health conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression can also make falling or staying asleep throughout the night difficult. If your mind is racing with worries or negative thoughts, it can be hard to relax enough to enter into deep sleep stages.

Many factors could be at play if you're struggling with getting a good night's rest despite feeling tired.

You may sleep more soundly and feel refreshed by addressing potential underlying issues such as stress and anxiety leading up to bedtime.

How to Reduce Stress to Improve REM Sleep

Chronic stress suppresses REM sleep, but relaxation techniques can help.

Techniques for Managing Stress Before Bedtime

  • Breathing exercises: Diaphragmatic breathing lowers heart rate and cortisol levels to alleviate chronic stress symptoms that affect REM sleep.

  • Aromatherapy: Essential oils like lavender or chamomile have calming properties that enhance overall sleep quality.

  • Physical activity: Regular exercise releases endorphins that combat stress, but avoid high-intensity workouts close to bedtime.

Improve REM Sleep Naturally

To enhance your REM sleep, try relaxation techniques like deep breathing before bedtime, adjusting room temperature, choosing suitable blankets, and increasing acetylcholine levels with vitamin B1-rich foods such as fish, pork, and nuts.

Increase REM Sleep

Increase REM sleep duration by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, exercising regularly during the day but not too close to bedtime, and managing stress effectively.

Stimulate REM Sleep

Stimulate REM sleep with melatonin production in response to darkness at nightfall, serotonin release from regular exercise, increased acetylcholine levels through a diet rich in vitamin B1 sources, balanced breathing patterns achieved via relaxation techniques, and reduced stress levels.

Conclusion

Improve your REM sleep naturally for better health and well-being by balancing breathing patterns, adjusting your blanket for optimal temperature, and increasing acetylcholine levels with Vitamin B1.

Reducing stress is also crucial to improving REM sleep, cognitive function, energy levels, and weight management.

Make small changes to your sleeping environment and practice controlled breathing exercises before bedtime to significantly improve your ability to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

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