How to increase rem sleep

by | Oct 19, 2023

Increasingly, quality sleep has become a luxury. Among the various stages of sleep, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep plays a pivotal role in our cognitive function and overall well-being. It’s the phase when dreams occur, memories consolidate, and our brains recharge. Consequently, learning how to increase REM sleep is paramount for those seeking to optimize their restorative slumber.

Table of Contents

Understanding REM Sleep

REM sleep, also known as paradoxical sleep, is one of the four stages of sleep that our bodies cycle through multiple times during the night. This stage is characterized by rapid eye movements, heightened brain activity, and vivid dreaming. Interestingly, our muscles become nearly paralyzed during REM sleep, which is a protective mechanism to prevent us from acting out our dreams.

Why Is REM Sleep Important?

REM sleep is crucial for various aspects of our health and functioning:

  1. Memory Consolidation: During REM sleep, our brains are actively involved in consolidating and organizing memories. This process is essential for learning and retaining information.
  2. Emotional Regulation: REM sleep plays a significant role in regulating our emotions. Sufficient REM sleep can help us maintain emotional balance and resilience.
  3. Brain Restoration: This stage of sleep is when the brain undergoes essential restoration and repair processes, preparing us for the day ahead.

How Much REM Sleep Do We Need?

On average, adults spend about 20-25% of their total sleep time in REM sleep, which equates to roughly 90-120 minutes each night. The duration of REM sleep tends to increase in the later sleep cycles, with the first REM period typically lasting for 10-20 minutes and the final one lasting up to an hour.

How to Increase REM Sleep: A Comprehensive Guide

In the pursuit of enhancing REM sleep, several effective strategies can be implemented. These methods encompass lifestyle adjustments, bedtime routines, and external factors that collectively contribute to achieving a higher quality of REM sleep. Consequently, familiarization with these techniques can significantly advocate for improved sleep patterns and overall health.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

In the contemporary era of bustling routines and elevated stress levels, establishing a soothing bedtime ritual holds immense promise. It serves as a transition period, aiding the body and mind in unwinding after a demanding day and gradually preparing for restful sleep. Consequently, an exemplar of such a routine can comprise:

  1. Wind Down: Engage in activities like reading a book or listening to calming music, allowing your mind to ease into relaxation.
  2. Avoid Stimulants: Steer clear of stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine, which can potentially disrupt the natural sleep cycle.
  3. Limit Screen Time: Prioritize disconnecting from electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the onset of sleep.

Embrace Natural Sleep Aids

In the realm of sleep-aid options, several natural remedies and practices can offer profound assistance in not only ensuring sound sleep but also specifically augmenting the REM sleep phase. Amongst the most notable of these aids are:

  1. Chamomile Tea: Known for its relaxing properties, sipping on a cup of chamomile tea before bed can act as a beacon for enhancing sleep quality and promoting a deeper REM phase.
  2. Valerian Root: Valerian root, available in the form of supplements, is renowned for its ability to induce a calm state of mind and facilitate faster onset of REM sleep.

Consistency is Key

Value in Consistency: One of the cornerstones of achieving REM sleep optimization is adhering to a regular sleep schedule. This practice aids in regulating the body’s internal clock, thereby ensuring a seamless transition between the sleep phases. Consequently, it is advisable to:

  1. Establish a Routine: Maintain a consistent sleep and wake-up time, even on weekends. This consistency can entrain the body to naturally align its REM sleep cycle, thus facilitating more efficient rest.
  2. Avoid Napping: Resist the temptation to take long naps during the day, as they can potentially disrupt the natural balance of sleep phases and lead to REM sleep deprivation during the night.

Mind Your Diet

As the age-old adage goes, “you are what you eat.” This statement, when applied to the realm of REM sleep, takes on remarkable significance. Specifically, the foods and beverages we consume can play a pivotal role in either uplifting or hindering the quality of our REM sleep. Therefore, for those on a quest to enhance their restorative slumber, it vital to:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Maintaining optimal hydration levels throughout the day can foster a conducive environment for REM sleep by preventing potential disturbances like cramps or discomfort.
  2. Strategize Meal Timing: Aim to have your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bed, as this measure can both alleviate the risk of acid reflux and ensure that the body is not engaged in heavy digestion during sleep, thereby allowing it to focus on restorative processes.

Stay Active

Unveiling the Link: The connection between physical activity and REM sleep is not one shrouded in mystery. On the contrary, numerous studies have consistently demonstrated the profound benefits that daily exercise can bestow on the varied stages of sleep, with REM sleep specifically not being an exception. Therefore, for those determined to optimize their sleep, it is paramount to:

  1. Find Your Rhythm: Engage in regular physical activity, be it in the form of brisk walking, jogging, or attending workout sessions. Such consistent movement can serve as a catalyst in both hastening the onset of sleep and amplifying the duration of REM sleep.

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

Sleep is oft considered sacred, and this reverence for rest is not unfounded. The environment in which one chooses to sleep has been shown to play an influential role in determining the quality of rest, including the depth and duration of REM sleep. Consequently, it becomes imperative for those seeking to enhance the restorative power of their slumber to:

  1. Create a Sleep Sanctuary: Fashion your sleep environment such that it is optimal for rest. This could involve investing in comfortable bedding, ensuring the room is adequately darkened, and maintaining an ambient temperature that is conducive to relaxing.

Manage Stress

The conventional wisdom that stress and sleep disturbances are inextricably linked has been validated by myriad scientific researches. Ranging from the rigors and demands of daily life to the myriad concerns and anxieties that might occupy one’s thoughts, stress can manifest as a palpable hurdle on the path to quality sleep, specifically REM sleep. Therefore, for those intent on fortifying their REM sleep phase, it becomes paramount to:

  1. Adopt Stress-Relief Techniques: Incorporate stress-alleviation practices into your daily routine. This might include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even relaxation strategies like listening to calming music or taking a warm bath before bed.
  2. Establish Boundaries: Ensure that you separate work and relaxation time, especially if you are working from home. Designate a specific place for work and refrain from bringing work-related materials into the bedroom.
  3. Seek Social Support: Sometimes, sharing your worries with a close friend or family member can alleviate the mental burden. Engage in regular conversations and maintain a supportive social network.

The Impact of Technology on REM Sleep

In the digital age, our lives have become increasingly intertwined with technology. While these advancements offer numerous benefits, they can also have significant implications for our sleep patterns, especially REM sleep.

  1. Blue Light Exposure: Electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, emit blue light. Prolonged exposure to this blue light, especially before bedtime, can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep.
  2. Overstimulation: Constant notifications and the influx of information can leave the mind overstimulated, making it challenging to relax and drift into a deep sleep.
  3. Recommendation: It’s crucial to limit screen time, especially during the evening. Consider using apps or settings that reduce blue light emission or wearing blue-light-blocking glasses.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’ve tried various strategies to increase REM sleep but still find yourself struggling, it may be time to seek the advice of a professional. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, could be affecting the quality of your REM sleep.

Consulting with a sleep specialist can provide insights into any underlying issues and guide you towards the best treatment options for your specific circumstances.


In the quest for optimal health and well-being, the quality of our sleep, particularly REM sleep, plays a pivotal role. Through understanding the importance of REM sleep and adopting the necessary strategies to enhance it, one can work towards achieving restorative and rejuvenating nights, thus paving the way for more productive and balanced days.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes a decrease in REM sleep?

Various factors, such as high stress levels, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, and certain medications, can lead to reduced REM sleep.

Is it possible to have too much REM sleep?

Yes, excessive REM sleep can be a sign of certain conditions, such as depression. It’s essential to achieve a balanced sleep cycle for overall well-being.

How can I monitor my REM sleep?

Wearable tech devices and sleep trackers can provide insights into your sleep patterns, including REM sleep duration.

What’s Next

For further guidance on enhancing your sleep quality and understanding its different aspects, consider exploring the following articles:

  1. “Relaxation Techniques for Sleep”: Dive deeper into various relaxation methods that can enhance your sleep quality.
  2. “How to Meditate Deeply”: Discover meditation techniques that can calm your mind, reduce stress, and subsequently promote better sleep.
  3. “Magnesium Malate for Sleep”: Understand the benefits of magnesium malate, a nutritional supplement, in supporting restful nights.

Remember, each individual’s sleep requirements and challenges can vary. It’s essential to find what works best for you and be patient with yourself as you navigate the path to optimal sleep.

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