REM sleep - what is it and why is it so important?

Health, Mind

There’s no better feeling than getting into bed after a long day of park walks and zoom meetings. Getting those hours in is easy for many, but just because your eyes are closed doesn’t mean your body is getting the rest it needs. DOSE writer Demi explains why REM sleep is important for a good night rest and how to improve it.

What is REM sleep?

REM sleep is a term commonly used but not understood. The National Sleep Foundation explains that during the REM stage of sleep your dreaming takes place. At the same time, your muscles become temporarily paralysed.

REM sleep involves more brain activity than NREM and is considered a more “wakeful” state, as your heart rate and blood pressure increase to levels close to what you experience when you are awake.

What happens during REM sleep?

REM sleep is also associated with learning new information. Dr. Vincent Walsh at the London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience suggests that REM exists to encode memory. This enables our bodies to better remember how to do things, solve problems and improve our motor skills. Who knew we were so good at multi-tasking?

Why is REM sleep important?

The REM sleep stage is often associated with feeling refreshed and having that ‘todays gonna be a good day’ feeling when you wake up. REM is the last cycle to occur before the sleep cycle wakes up. And usually the one that is sacrificed when the sleep stages are interrupted by your alarm or the noisy bin men on a Monday morning.

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that without the REM sleep stage, your immune system could be weakened, you may experience pain more deeply, and the growth of new healthy cells and tissue in the body might be blocked.

REM sleep also helps to ensure better mental concentration and mood regulation. Two things to help dissolve those January blues.

Improving your REM sleep:

There’s not much an app can’t fix these days. Ensuring you get a good nights sleep will most likely improve your chances of getting more REM sleep too, it’s a win win!

As well as having an hour before bed without your phone or TV, I’ve picked my four favourite sleep apps to help you get the beauty sleep you deserve.

Sleep Cycle App

This is one of my most used apps on my phone. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to identify sleep states. Using your microphone as a sleep recorder, tracking your movements in bed. With the Sleep Cycle app you can learn about your bedtime patterns with detailed sleep tracking and analyses.

It’s personalised alarm clock gently wakes you up whilst you’re in a light sleep. Simply turn Sleep Cycle on before going to bed and place your device on your nightstand or close by on the floor.

Sleep Cycle App
Sleep Cycle App
Calm App

There’s a reason why the Calm app is mentioned in most conversations these days. But who doesn’t want to fall asleep listening to Matthew McConaughey?

With sleep stories from many famous voices, meditation and playlist, Calm is the perfect remedy for a good nights sleep.

Calm App
Calm App
Slumber

While Slumber offers more typical features like soundscapes and assisted sleep meditation, it also offers ‘soothing stories’ by therapeutic hypnotist Dan Jones. And suggested hypnosis techniques to help you fall asleep FAST.

All slumber episodes are designed to put you in a state of deep calm, and help to turn off your mind. With free and premium paid options you can even track your usage and sleep quality over time.

Slumber App
Slumber App

For more DOSE content about sleep check out our articles;  I’m a polyphasic sleeper – not by choice and This is what drinking late at night does to your sleep patterns. 

By Demi

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