Do you know what REM sleep is? Do you know how important it is for your overall health? And, most importantly, do you know whether or not you’re getting enough of it? It’s only in recent years that we’ve become aware of what REM sleep is and how important it is so the overall health and wellness of the average person. So we’re dedicating some time and space to talking about this important topic today. Get ready to learn all you’ve ever wanted to know – and then some – about REM sleep.
REM Sleep: the Basics
You sometimes hear people talking about it and TV or movies, but the way they discuss it only really scratches the surface. REM is an acronym for rapid eye movement”. In a way, this name is a little bit funny. This particular stage of sleep got its name because – surprise, surprise – one very common characteristic of REM sleep is that a person’s eyes tend to dart back and forth rapidly. But the funny thing about it is that the rest of the human body in a healthy individual is completely paralyzed. It’s a physical state called atonia.
The human body slips into atonia during REM sleep because this is the stage of sleep where most people experience dreams. And when people dream, if something somehow inhibits the atonia process, there’s a high likelihood they will get up and start to physically act out what they are experiencing in their dream world. This phenomenon has been shown in animal experiments where scientists have purposely inhibited the atonia process. Examples of it in humans are what many believe to be instances of sleepwalking. The reigning theory is that atonia is the body’s natural defense mechanism to protect us from ourselves while we dream. If we didn’t have atonia, who knows – we could end up walking straight off a cliff in our sleep!
The brain is very active during REM sleep, contrary to what most people believe. Another funny name for REM sleep is called paradoxical sleep because brain wave activity spikes to the point where in almost resembles that of a waking person. But there may be a reasonable explanation for this. Scientists firmly believe that REM sleep is the portion of your sleep cycle where your brain is processing and storing new memories. It’s almost like running a defrag program on your hard drive – except for your brain!
Why Does the Human Body Need REM Sleep?
The body requires REM sleep for optimal mind-body health and wellness. If it weren’t for REM sleep, you would have some serious memory problems – especially when it comes to long-term memories. Studies show that people who get a good, healthy amount of REM sleep have better and more reliable long-term memory. They also do better when remembering recently learned things, like cramming before a final and getting an A instead of a B on the test. And if you have been working hard to learn new information recently, then your body will very likely spend more time in a REM sleep state during your nightly rest.
People of every age need REM sleep – but certain ages need it more than others. Infants, children, and teenagers spend the greatest amount of time in REM sleep. The younger your brain is, the more things it has to learn as you grow. It was completely understandable why the body would dedicate so much of its sleep resources to getting enough rem. As you get older – and this is especially true the less time you spend learning new things and/or practicing the skills you have – the less time your body will spend in REM sleep. And the less REM sleep you get, well…That brings us to our next section.
What’s the Harm in Getting Less REM Sleep?
Two words: cognitive decline. And we’re not just talking about memory or tripping on your own tongue or being able to do Sudoku less quickly. We’re talking about a myriad of different symptoms, such as:
- Decline in coping skills
- All day fatigue, especially in the morning
- Very low energy levels
- Age-related brain diseases and symptoms
- Memory problems
- Forced rebound REM sleep and delirium tremens (in extreme cases)
There’s a chance you could also experience weight gain, inflammation, and poor immune responses as a result of too little REM sleep. It’s during this stage of sleep and the slightly deeper stage – delta sleep – that your body cleans house and repairs most of the damage you received from your daily activities. But if your body never hits these sleep stages, those repairs never happen. And it screws up everything in your body from your immune system to your metabolism to your brain function and beyond.
How to get the healthiest possible REM sleep
The best way to make sure the most REM sleep you can when you need it most is to avoid drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. Alcohol is a strong and well-known inhibitor of REM sleep. Benzodiazepines have a very similar effect, which is problematic seeing as how often they are prescribed for conditions like insomnia and anxiety.
There are other drugs which also inhibit REM sleep, but not nearly as profoundly as alcohol or powerful narcotics. Cannabis has been shown to depress the REM sleep cycle, although there isn’t enough scientific data to suggest whether certain strains create this affect more than others – or whether there may actually be strains of the plant which can help encourage and improve REM sleep. Prescription sleeping pills which are not benzodiazepines, as well as off-label prescription sleep aids and over the counter sleeping pills can also inhibit REM sleep. Your best bet is to stay away from these drugs if you can.
So what should you do instead of relying on hard drugs to help with your sleep problems? Try to find a safe, natural sleep aid to help you get the rest you want and the REM sleep your body needs. Avinol PM is great for that. It has the perfect mix of natural ingredients that are potent enough to give you the sleep you need but gentle enough that they won’t produce any negative side effects or leave you groggy the next day. You should try ordering some Avinol PM now!