REM Sleep and NREM Deep Sleep
Better REM and NREM sleep can come from getting some sunlight, having a sleep schedule, enough sleep, doing light to medium exercises, not having drinks before bedtime, a comfortable sleep environment, and lowering the temperature. Worse REM and NREM sleep can come from stress, a TV in the bedroom, or an undiagnosed seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- REM or rapid eye movement sleep is when the body is still but the brain is most active. It is usually associated with dreams. Twenty to 25% of sleep is REM sleep.
- NREM sleep has three stages: N1, going from awake to asleep, or lightly asleep; N2, the true sleep state, approximately 40% to 50% of sleep is in the N2 stage; N3, the deep sleep stage which accounts for about 20% of sleep time.
THINGS TO DO FOR A BETTER REM SLEEP AND NON-REM DEEP SLEEP
1) SLEEP SCHEDULE
- Keeping a sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time with at least seven hours of sleep, the body will adjust to this pattern. In time, it will allow light, REM, and deep (NREM) sleep stages in full and waking up will become easier.
2) ENOUGH SLEEP TIME
- The best way to increase the amount of REM and NREM sleep is to make sure one has enough total sleep time. Often, total sleep time is inadequate, meaning REM and NREM sleep stages also diminished.
3) DON'T DRINK BEFORE/AT BEDTIME
- Hydrating the body during the day is good for overall health, but beverages should not be consumed three hours before bedtime. This eliminates waking up to go to the bathroom, improving REM sleep.
4) PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Light to medium exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, or jogging done each day can bring light, REM, and NREM stage sleep improvements. However, activities should be completed at least three hours before bedtime, so the body can wind down.
- The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommends 20-30 minutes of daily exercise to improve sleep.
- Exercise just before bedtime is not recommended as it will keep you awake.
5) COMFORTABLE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
- The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommends that the room you sleep in be only for sleep, with no bright lights or loud sounds. TVs and computers should not be in the bedroom.
- An eye mask that block out all light can increase deep (NREM) sleep.
- Having white or pink noise in the bedroom can increase deep (NREM) sleep.
6) LOWERING THE TEMPERATURE
- The ideal temperature for adults to sleep is between 60 to 72 degrees.
- A cooler room has health benefits, including regulating hormones and metabolism. It can also help you fall asleep faster.
- A hotter room can cause one to have less deep (NREM) sleep and ruin the overall quality of sleep.
7) RELAXING BEFORE GOING TO BED
- Reading, listening to music, and turning the TV and computers off at least one hour before bedtime will help a person relax.
- A sauna or hot bath may help improve sleep quality because heat promotes slow-wave, or deep NREM, sleep.
- The heat of chamomile tea or warm milk will also make you sleepy by raising your body temperature.
8) NOT EATING BIG MEALS
- Eating large meals before bedtime disrupts sleep, which will decrease deep (NREM) sleep.
9) AVOIDING DAYTIME NAPS
- Napping for more than 30 minutes in the daytime can disrupt sleep patterns and cause one to have trouble sleeping at night.
- Napping for only 20 minutes will allow the napper to experience improve alertness, performance, and mood since sleep was only in the lightest NREM sleep stage.
- When napping between 30 to 60 minutes, one enters deeper NREM and REM sleep and will be groggy if woken and continue to feel tired.
10) QUIT SMOKING
- When you smoke, sleep time is reduced by about 33 minutes, which is about 4% less REM sleep.
- Because smokers spend more time in light sleep, they are more likely to be unrefreshed after a night's sleep.
THINGS THAT CAN MAKE REM AND NON-REM SLEEP WORSE
1) STIMULANT MEDICATIONS
- Certain substances can suppress REM sleep: alcohol, marijuana, caffeine, opioid pain medications, lithium, benzodiazepine medications, and antidepressant medications.
- Some studies have shown that even when consumed early in the day, caffeine can affect falling asleep.
- Worrying about lack of sleep, or any worries, can cause anxiety and make it hard to sleep.
- According to a recent study, stress and depression can cause disturbances in REM sleep.
- The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes a person should not lie awake in bed and should find something else to do, such as listening to music or reading, and returning to bed when tired.
- Outlets for stress include working out, meditation, and aromatherapy.
3) SLEEP DISORDERS
- Sleep disorders, unlike sleeping problems, have an underlying medical condition that impacts a person's ability for quality sleep.
- A sleep disorder keeps one from a normal REM and NREM sleep cycle.
- When a person experiences symptoms, such as becoming sleepy in the daytime, trouble staying awake while driving, difficulties with concentration, and slow reaction time, they may have a sleep disorder.
- Sometimes, by tracking sleep patterns, a person can find ways to improve their sleep at home. However, if symptoms are extreme and self-help does not seem to work, a doctor should be consulted.
- There are treatments for most sleep disorders.
4) JET LAG
- Jet lag, although temporary, can disrupt circadian rhythms and affect sleep patterns. A longer flight or flights going east can cause jet lag to be worse.
- Jet lag is caused by a disruption in the brain's two groups of neurons. One of these neuron groups deals with physical fatigue and deep (NREM) sleep while the other controls REM sleep and dreams.
- The REM sleep neurons are the ones that have difficulty adjusting to the new cycle, which causes the two neuron groups to be out of sync.
- The general rule is that one will need one day for every time zone crossed to readjust sleeping habits to normal.
5) TV IN THE BEDROOM
- 60% of Americans say they watch TV right before bed.
- The blue light from the TV can suppress melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep.
- Staying in the light stages of sleep while watching TV causes the body to not be able to complete the restorative work done during deep sleep.
6) SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
- Bright light or sunlight is needed for a healthy circadian rhythm. A few hours of sunlight can improve energy for the day as well as duration and quality of sleep at night.
- 3% of Americans have a winter-onset seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which occurs when the days are shorter.
- Winter-onset SAD causes sufferers' bodies to produce more melatonin, making them sleepier in the daytime.
- People with winter-onset SAD spend a good deal of time in bed but less time in bed asleep, which decreases their amount of deep sleep, but their REM sleep increases.
- Because winter-onset SAD sufferers think they are getting enough sleep, they often go without being diagnosed, which can cause undue concern and anxiety about being tired all the time.