How to Get More REM Sleep: 10 All-Natural Tips for Quick Results
In everyone’s busy lives, a good night's sleep can feel like a luxury. But it's not just the quantity of sleep that matters, it's the quality as well. One of the most critical phases of sleep for your overall well-being is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is the stage that dreams occur, and it plays a vital role in memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and cognitive function.
Unfortunately, many of us are not getting enough REM sleep, which can lead to a lot of health issues.
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of REM sleep and explain 10 all-natural remedies that will help you to get more REM sleep:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
- Limit screen time for at least 1 hour before bed
- Optimize your sleep environment to be dark, quiet, and cool
- Watch your diet and avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed
- Stay active regularly but not right before bedtime
- Manage your stress and anxiety
- Experiment with all-natural sleep supplements
- Maintain a comfortable sleep temperature throughout the night
- Practice lucid dreaming techniques
Whether you're struggling with frequent wake ups in the night, sleep disorders, or simply want to enhance your sleep quality, we've got you covered. Keep reading and we’ll dive into each of the 10 above tips to help you get more REM sleep naturally and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
What is REM Sleep?
Before we talk about the different remedies, it's important to understand what REM sleep is and why it's so crucial. REM sleep, short for Rapid Eye Movement sleep, is one of the four stages of the sleep cycle, along with non-REM stages 1, 2, and 3.
REM sleep typically occurs 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs several times throughout the night, with each REM stage increasing in duration. During REM sleep, your brain activity becomes more similar to that of wakefulness, and your eyes move rapidly beneath your closed eyelids, giving this stage its name.
REM sleep is often referred to as "dream sleep" because this is when most of your vivid dreams occur. But its significance goes beyond dreaming. During REM sleep, your brain is highly active, processing emotions and memories while helping you learn and make sense of your daily experiences. REM sleep is also essential for emotional regulation and mood stability.
However, getting enough REM sleep can be a challenge for many. Factors like stress, poor sleep habits, and sleep disorders can disrupt the balance of your sleep cycles, leaving you deprived of the full benefits of REM sleep.
With that in mind, let’s dive into 10 natural remedies to help you reclaim your REM sleep and unlock its variety of benefits.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
One of the most effective ways to improve your REM sleep is by establishing a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends when possible.
Consistent sleeping times helps regulate your body's internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the desired times. Consistency reinforces your natural circadian rhythms, which play a crucial role in the timing of REM sleep.
Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine signals to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation. Reducing stress and anxiety before bedtime can enhance your chances of experiencing more REM sleep.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed
During your bedtime routine, try to avoid bright lights and technology. Exposure to bright artificial light, especially the blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions, can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
Melatonin is typically released in the evening, signaling to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Reduced melatonin production can make it harder to fall asleep and disrupt your sleep cycles, specifically REM sleep.
Avoid screen time at least an hour before bedtime to allow your body to naturally produce melatonin and prepare for restorative REM sleep.
Optimize Your Sleep Environment
Your sleep environment can significantly impact the quality of your rest. Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your sleep posture. If there are a lot of outside noises or distractions, consider purchasing a white noise machine or a small fan to drown out the noise.
Watch Your Diet
Believe it or not, the foods and beverages you consume can influence your sleep patterns. Avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime, as they are stimulants that can disrupt your REM sleep. Additionally, limit heavy meals and alcohol intake in the evening, as they can lead to digestive discomfort and fragmented sleep.
Here’s a list of foods that promote a healthy sleep:
- Cherries: Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Eating tart cherries or drinking cherry juice before bedtime may improve sleep quality.
- Bananas: Bananas are rich in potassium and contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can help induce sleep and regulate your sleep patterns.
- Almonds: Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, which can help relax muscles and improve sleep quality. They also contain tryptophan and healthy fats.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are another good source of tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids, which can have a positive impact on sleep patterns.
- Kiwi: Kiwi is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep. Eating kiwi before bedtime may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
- Oats: Oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. They can help stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing nighttime awakenings due to low blood sugar.
- Honey: A small amount of honey mixed with warm water or herbal tea can help increase the availability of tryptophan in the brain, potentially aiding in sleep.
Individual responses to these foods can vary, so it's essential to pay attention to your body's reactions and adjust your diet accordingly. Incorporating a variety of these sleep-promoting foods into your daily meals can contribute to better sleep and your overall well being.
Stay Active, But Not Right Before Bed
Regular physical activity is associated with better sleep, including increased REM sleep. However, avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime, as it can have a stimulating effect on your body. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise earlier in the day to reap the sleep-enhancing benefits.
Manage Stress and Anxiety
Chronic stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns, reducing the amount of REM sleep you get. Because stress and anxiety is such a massive contributor to getting more REM sleep, here's a list of effective strategies to help you relax and prepare for sleep:
Engage in mindfulness meditation to calm your mind and reduce stress. Focus on your breath and let go of racing thoughts. Guided meditation apps or videos can be helpful.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Practice progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and then releasing each muscle group in your body. This technique helps relieve physical tension.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Perform deep breathing exercises to slow your heart rate and induce relaxation. Try the 4-7-8 technique: inhale for a count of 4, hold for 7, and exhale for 8.
Write down your thoughts, worries, and to-do lists before bed. This can help clear your mind and help your body and thoughts be focused on sleep and nothing else.
Use soothing scents like lavender, chamomile, or cedarwood essential oils. You can diffuse them in your bedroom or use them in a relaxing bath.
If external noises disturb your sleep, consider using white noise machines or apps to mask disruptive sounds.
Limit News Consumption
Avoid watching or reading the news, particularly distressing or anxiety-inducing stories, before bedtime.
Yoga and Stretching
Gentle yoga poses and stretching exercises can help release physical tension and calm your mind.
Avoid checking the clock frequently if you have trouble falling asleep, as it can increase anxiety about not getting enough rest.
Experiment with All-Natural Sleep Supplements
Certain natural remedies can aid in improving sleep quality and increasing REM sleep. Consider incorporating herbs that support a healthy rem sleep:
These herbs have mild sedative properties that can promote relaxation and enhance sleep and REM sleep. Consider incorporating these herbs into your nighttime routine.
If you don’t want to worry about swallowing a bunch of pills before bed, you can opt for an all-natural drink to sip before bed that includes all of the above herbs in one. Hernightly is a plant-based, all-natural, powder-form sleep support supplement that does the following:
- Enhances deep sleep
- Calms the mind
- Relaxes the body
- Promotes recovery
The ingredients are all organic and don’t include anything you wouldn’t want to consume right before bed.
The benefit of a powder form vs pills is your body can absorb the nutrients quicker, which is extremely useful at night when you’re wanting immediate results to get sleepy and get more REM sleep.
Hernightly comes in 2 flavors, restful raspberry and chocolate. Both taste great either hot or cold, so you can drink it whichever way you prefer.
Maintain a Comfortable Sleep Temperature
The ideal sleep temperature for most people is around 65-68°F (18-20°C). Adjust your bedroom temperature to ensure it's not too hot or too cold. Extreme temperatures can disrupt your sleep cycle and potentially wake you up. A comfortable sleep environment encourages longer and deeper REM sleep.
Practice Lucid Dreaming Techniques
Lucid dreaming is the art of becoming aware that you are dreaming while you are in the dream state. This practice can enhance your REM sleep experience by allowing you to actively participate in your dreams. Techniques like reality checks and dream journaling can help you achieve lucid dreaming, making your REM sleep even more engaging and potentially therapeutic.
Things That May Be Negatively Affecting Your REM Sleep
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
Many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can interfere with REM sleep. Some antidepressants, antihistamines, and certain medications for high blood pressure or allergies can reduce the amount of REM sleep you get or lead to REM sleep abnormalities. It's essential to discuss potential sleep-related side effects with your healthcare provider if you're taking any medications.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Sleep apnea, characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep, can significantly disrupt REM sleep. Even snoring, which is often a symptom of sleep apnea, can lead to fragmented sleep and reduced REM sleep. Sleep apnea should be diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional to improve sleep quality and protect REM sleep.
Dehydration can interfere with sleep quality, including REM sleep. Even mild dehydration can lead to nighttime awakenings and disturbances in your sleep cycles. Staying adequately hydrated throughout the day and avoiding excessive fluid intake close to bedtime can help maintain a more consistent sleep pattern and protect REM sleep.
Your sleeping position can influence the quality of your REM sleep. Sleeping on your back can be associated with an increased risk of sleep apnea, which can disrupt REM sleep. However, sleeping on your stomach may cause neck and back discomfort, leading to frequent awakenings.
The ideal sleeping position is typically on your side with proper pillow support.
Certain foods, especially those high in sugar and caffeine, can interfere with REM sleep. Consuming sugary snacks close to bedtime can lead to waking up frequently during the night. Additionally, heavy or spicy meals can cause discomfort and disrupt REM sleep, especially if they’re consumed shortly before going to bed. It's advisable to avoid these foods in the hours leading up to bedtime.
How Do I Know If It’s Time to Talk with My Doctor?
It's important to recognize that everyone's sleep needs and vulnerabilities are unique. If you suspect that any of these factors are negatively affecting your REM sleep or overall sleep quality, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or sleep specialist. They can provide personalized guidance and solutions to help you optimize your REM sleep and enjoy more restful nights.
Here are a few things to look out for if you’re considering if you need to go to the doctor for your sleep troubles:
- Persistent Sleep Disturbances: If you've been experiencing sleep problems for an extended period (typically lasting longer than a month) and these issues are consistently affecting your daily life, it's a strong indicator that it's time to consult a healthcare professional. Sleep troubles may include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early, as well as frequent nightmares or restless legs.
- Excessive Daytime Fatigue: Feeling excessively tired during the day, even after what should have been a full night's sleep, can be a sign of a sleep disorder or another underlying medical condition. If daytime fatigue is interfering with your work, daily activities, or safety (e.g., while driving), it's essential to seek medical evaluation.
- Loud Snoring or Breathing Pauses: If you or your partner notices loud and chronic snoring, or if you're observed to stop breathing or gasp for air during sleep, it could be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires medical attention, as it can lead to various health complications.
- Other Symptoms and Health Issues: Pay attention to any accompanying symptoms or health issues that might be related to your sleep problems. This includes symptoms like restless legs, mood changes (such as increased irritability or anxiety), and difficulties with memory or concentration. These symptoms can be indicative of specific sleep disorders or underlying medical conditions.
REM sleep is an essential component of a healthy sleep cycle, contributing to memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and cognitive function. By following the natural remedies outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of getting more REM sleep without resorting to intense medications or drastic lifestyle changes.
Remember that achieving better sleep takes time and patience, so be consistent with your efforts and monitor your progress. With dedication and a little adjustment to your sleep habits, you can get a refreshing and fulfilling night's sleep, filled with vivid dreams and all the benefits of REM sleep. Sweet dreams!