The Importance Of REM Sleep For Your Overall Sleep Health

by Luis Zequeiro

Sleep is an essential part of our daily lives and plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. One of the most important stages of sleep is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. In this blog post, we will explore the role of REM sleep in overall sleep health and its importance to Canadians.


WHAT IS REM (Rapid Eye Movement)

REM sleep is one of the most fascinating stages of sleep, and it's the stage where our brains are the most active. It's during REM sleep that we have the most vivid and memorable dreams. This stage is characterized by rapid eye movements, which is how it got its name. 

One thing you will find really interesting about REM sleep is that our muscles are temporarily paralyzed during this stage, which is thought to be an evolutionary mechanism to protect us from acting out our dreams. 

REM sleep is an essential part of our overall sleep experience, and it's important to ensure we're getting enough of it to feel refreshed and rested in the morning.

4 Health Benefits of REM Sleep

  1. It's been found that the REM sleep stage plays a vital role in the consolidation of memories and the formation of new neural connections in the brain. According to studies by the Canadian Sleep Society, REM sleep helps us to process, organize and consolidate the experiences of the day into our long-term memory.

This is important for learning and adapting to new experiences, which can be particularly beneficial for those who regularly engage in new activities such as skiing, hiking, canoeing, and more.

  1. It also plays a vital role in our emotional well-being. Studies have shown that people who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea often have a disrupted REM sleep stage. This can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, which are major public health issues in Canada. The Canadian Sleep Society recommends that adult should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, with a significant portion of that time spent in the REM stage to maintain good mental and emotional health.
  2. Furthermore, REM sleep plays an important role in regulating our hormone levels and metabolism. Melatonin, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle, is released during the this stage sleep stage, helping to regulate our circadian rhythms. 
  3. Also, our body is able to repair and rejuvenate itself, which is crucial for overall physical health. According to the Canadian Sleep Society, disruption of REM sleep can lead to an increased risk of chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

How to Improve your REM Sleep

It's important for people to take sleep seriously, which is why it's crucial to maintain good sleep hygiene and establish healthy sleep habits. Some steps you can take to improve your sleep include:

-Setting a consistent sleep schedule

-Creating a relaxing sleep environment

-Avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before sleep

-Creating a relaxing pre-sleep routine

Another important factor to consider when it comes to REM sleep is the use of substances such as cannabis and alcohol. With cannabis now legal, it's important to be aware of its effects on our sleep. The use of cannabis can affect the REM stage of sleep, often resulting in a decrease in REM sleep.

This can lead to reduced dreaming and a disruption of the memory consolidation that occurs during REM sleep. Additionally, cannabis can also cause sleep apnea, which can lead to a reduction in overall sleep quality.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a central nervous system depressant that can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, causing problems with both the quantity and quality of sleep.

You have to also consider that drinking alcohol before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster, but it can also cause awakenings later in the night, which can make it more difficult to return to sleep. Alcohol before sleep can suppress REM sleep and reduce the overall duration of the this stage. This can lead to disrupted sleep reduction of REM sleep, with drawbacks such as memory consolidation and emotional well-being.

It's important to have in mind before for those who consume cannabis or alcohol to be aware of the effects it can have on their sleep and the importance of REM stage. If you're using cannabis or alcohol as a sleep aid, it's best to look into other ways to improve your sleep, such as practicing good sleep hygiene, making changes to your diet or exercise regimen, or looking for therapy to address underlying mental health concerns.

In conclusion, REM sleep is a vital stage of sleep that plays a crucial role in overall sleep health, including memory consolidation, emotional well-being, and physical health. It's important for to maintain good sleep hygiene and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, with a significant portion of that time spent in the REM stage. If you're experiencing sleep issues, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to find out how to address them.