Everyone always talks about REM sleep as being the “deepest” part of your sleep cycle. This is only partially true. Important things happen at every stage of your sleep cycle. Here we’ll explain what benefits are typically exclusive to your REM phase of sleep and how you can make the most of it.
Even though it is an essential phase of sleep, REM is one of the rarest (or shortest) sleep cycles that human beings experience. Most adults only spend about 20% of their entire night’s sleep in an REM phase. One of the reasons why it’s so precious and rare is because it only happens about 90 minutes after you’ve already been sleeping and it doesn’t last long. The longer you sleep, the more times you will cycle back to REM sleep and the longer each REM cycle will be.
It’s easier to see what’s so important about REM sleep when you look at how much infants sleep and how much time they spend in REM sleep. When people use the phrase “sleep like a baby,” they are usually referring to deep, long restful sleep, and not an infant’s tendency to wake every 2-3 hours in their first few weeks of life. As opposed to adults, infants spend about 50% of their sleeping hours in REM sleep. Why? Because this is when their brain does the most developing.
Even though as you age, you will spend less time in REM sleep, your brain still needs that time. After you go through stages 1-3 of non-REM sleep, you finally reach REM (rapid eye movement) sleep after about 90 minutes of shut-eye. During this time, your eyes move side-to-side rapidly and randomly, you tend to dream more vividly, and your brain function is increased. REM sleep lasts only a short time, but it will happen again about every 90 minutes while you are sleeping. Thus, when you get a full night’s sleep, you can get 3-4 REM cycles which will increase your brain capacity and function during the day.
It’s harder to pinpoint physical benefits with REM sleep, but the bottom line is that when you are getting more REM sleep cycles, you are likely sleeping longer and getting more restorative sleep. This means you will go through Stage 1 once (just starting to drift off), Stage 2 generally just once (which is only a light sleep) and stage 3 in between your REM cycles (a deep sleep, where you can also dream and where your body rejuvenates and strengthens itself). You will feel more like you got a “good night’s sleep” when you have gone through several sleep cycles including REM. The benefits are obvious: more energy, better performance, more controlled appetite, lower stress, and fewer aches and pains.
It’s a good idea to shoot for a full night’s sleep of about 8 hours, even if you’re a busy adult. If your mattress is waking you up and interrupting your sleep cycles, you might want to consider looking at new beds in Minneapolis so that once you are asleep, you can stay in the most restful and restorative sleep cycles for as long as possible.
7835 Southtown Center
Bloomington, MN 55435
Between Bed Bath & Beyond and Herbergers
Monday to Friday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM