Sleep is the most integral part of the entire day; only based on one’s sleep can someone decide whether he/she will be an active member of society or someone who decides to stay at home for the entire day. Sleep also has different stages, and different amounts of sleep can cause various changes in one’s daily life depending on the age of the person, their health, their condition, and the time they sleep for.

What is REM Sleep

Upon going to bed and falling asleep, the brain and body go through different phases or stages of sleep. REM being the last stage, and NREM being the first 3. The first stage is between the period of being awake and the time of falling asleep. The second stage begins when we start to become unaware of our surroundings. Body temperature drops & breathing & heart rate become regular.

The 3rd stage is the restorative sleep stage and is the deepest where the body heals itself and becomes re-energized. REM or Rapid Eye Movement is the final stage where dreams occur. Our eyes move back and forth, and sleep starts to boost our physical and mental performance. REM usually occurs 90 minutes after falling asleep, the first period lasting 10 minutes with subsequent stages getting longer.

Why REM sleep is Important

As mentioned above, REM helps restore and improve our physical and mental performance after a hard day’s work. Just as a car needs fuel, we need this stage of sleep. It is a crucial stage for storing all of our memories and helping process new ones, as, during REM sleep, the brain stimulates areas of itself that are essential for it to learn and retain memories making you more likely to remember new information and recall old information.

Studies show that people who get better sleep after a traumatic incident can process it better, helping you cope with your trauma. The REM stage of sleep helps restore the brain on an emotional level too by regulating hormones and reducing stress. REM sleep also seems to help regulate blood flow & blood glucose levels.

Figuring out your sleep drive:

Every person has their own sleep drive and needs their amount of sleep to be fully functional the next day. Age plays a huge factor in this; infants of 0-3 months need about 14-17 hours of sleep while older children from 3-13 require around 10 hours. Teenagers and adults require at least 9 hours of sleep. Other conditions may also affect the amount of sleep you need.

For example, pregnant women require more sleep than usual. To find out a more specific time frame of how much sleep you need, one can always use an online REM sleep Calculator, which usually bases you on your wake-up time, five to six sleep cycles, and gives an estimate of 15 minutes for a person to fall asleep. These sleep cycles consist of 90 minutes each, and even missing a single cycle can have various negative effects on the body.

Getting more REM sleep:

Getting more bedtime and more REM sleep is key for a productive and efficient day, and so measures should be taken to ensure that one gets their required amount of rest. The beginning of this is to have a comfortable mattress and a comfortable pillow where you can fall asleep with ease. One must fix bedtime and a time when one should wake up after getting a proper amount of sleep.

Napping during the day should be kept to a 20-minute limit at most, once a day. If you find yourself unable to fall asleep, then try reading a book or listening to relaxing music. Big meals, good hygiene, and a relaxing nighttime routine can also help increase sleep time. If you still cannot fall asleep properly, then try visiting a doctor and taking some form of prescribed medication if necessary.

How to know if you’re getting enough sleep

Sometimes the signs of getting a good night’s rest is not always obvious. The most obvious one is waking up without an alarm, meaning your body has gotten all the rest it needs and is now ready to work. This is especially obvious when you don’t need a hot cup of coffee the first thing when you wake up.

A loss of junk food craving is also an effect of a well-rested night. Physically, getting enough sleep helps maintain body weight and leads to fair and glowing skin, but do not completely depend on these just by sleeping! Mentally getting enough REM sleep can lead to a good mood, making you feel less cranky and grumpy and more energetic and motivated. If you find yourself learning better and processing information faster, then you can attribute this to your REM sleep too.

Lack of REM:

REM sleep is needed by the body for it to function properly, the lack of which could cause serious effects to the body, which may hinder its performance. This lack of performance is linked with a rise in migraines which are probably the result of the brain being unable to rejuvenate itself. As stated earlier, people who sleep after traumatic events can process them much better.

The opposite holds true as well, where people who do not get enough REM sleep cannot cope with their experiences. They show abnormalities in their coping mechanism and defensive responses when faced with a life-threatening situation. A lack of REM sleep is also associated with excess weight within children and teenagers. A lack of REM sleep has severe detrimental effects on the body and the mind.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation:

Being sleep-deprived is one of the worst ways to spend your day, as the number of negative effects it has on your body makes it almost impossible to act normally. Being deprived of even 90 minutes of sleep can have severe adverse effects on your body.

Firstly, your body loses its alertness, becoming less alert to its surroundings. It affects your brain in such a way that the brain itself cannot process what is happening around it, losing perception of reality, making it harder to remember specific things and even harder to learn and retain new information you get.

Less sleep automatically means more stress and changes in mood, i.e., being grumpier and angry, and even depressed. It reduces your overall quality of life by making you less active, leading to a gain in weight and red puffy eyes with dark circles around them.

Having an adequate amount of REM sleep is an essential requirement of the body and of the mind, without which either of the two cannot hope to function properly.