6 Ways to Get More REM Sleep & Feel Less Tired
As someone who loves sleep but doesn’t do it nearly enough, I often wake up exhausted, bleary-eyed, and wondering what time I finally fell asleep. This month, though, I decided enough was enough and researched a bunch of ways on how to change my sleep schedule, get deeper sleep, and find the elusive REM sleep everyone is always talking about.
The tips are mostly obvious—go to bed earlier, use a comfortable mattress, and don’t keep your electronics near your pillow (I’m certainly guilty of that). But the reasons for each were new to me! Did you know that even though alcohol helps you sleep it actually “disrupts your typical sleep cycle and decreases the overall quality of your sleep?” So, no, that nightcap doesn’t do any of us any favors.
Here are the six main rules I’ve been adhering to for better sleep and why they work.
6 Ways to Achieve REM Sleep
1. Go to Bed Earlier
It seems obvious, right? But it’s more important than you think. We have 90-minute sleep cycles and our REM stage sleep cycle happens earlier in the morning. If you have to wake up early, you may not have enough time to hit the REM stage of sleep before your alarm goes off.
2. Have a Regular Bedtime Routine
Our bodies are on a 24-hour cycle and do best when we have a consistent circadian rhythm. Train your body with a reliable, habitual bedtime ritual so the appropriate hormones (cortisol and melatonin) get released in response to the light and darkness.
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Having a regular sleep schedule will help increase REM and the overall quality of your sleep.
3. Eliminate Distractions
Whether it’s using a sound machine to block out other noises or wearing a sleeping mask to keep you from waking up, limit the distractions you allow in your bedroom. As a bonus, using pink noise (a gentler version of white noise) has been shown to improve memory in older adults.
Relax and wind down. Take some time to focus on yourself before bed. Get off electronic devices (the blue light emanating from them disrupts circadian rhythms), wash your face and brush your teeth, get a few chores done around the home. Maybe even take a hot bath—the heat and then immediate cool-down afterward will help lull you to sleep. Once you’re in bed, stay off your devices, relax, focus on your breathing, and if you’re feeling up to it, try meditating or aromatherapy.
4. Get Comfortable
Choose a mattress that suits your unique sleep needs, such as sleeping position and regulating body temperature. Both are essential to getting quality rest. Sleeping on a mattress that is too soft or too firm for you, sheets that are too warm, or a mattress that is old and sags all prevent you from maximizing deep restorative sleep. Try getting a mattress that is custom-made for your needs and preferences to help with falling and staying asleep. Plus, you won’t wake up with any sleep-related pain the next morning.
5. Be Aware of What You Eat (And Drink)
Avoid eating foods to which you have an intolerance, such as spicy foods or dairy. Tart cherry juice before bed has shown to improve your sleep quality. No alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime. Caffeine and alcohol interfere with your natural sleep process and having either of these too close to bedtime disrupts your natural body chemistry and can keep you awake. And even though alcohol helps you fall asleep, it disrupts your typical sleep cycle and decreases the overall quality of your sleep.
6. Too Stressed to Sleep? Try Massage Therapy
When all else fails, sometimes it’s just our body being too tense and stressed to allow us to get any decent night of sleep. If you’re chronically tired or your body is full of knots or tight neck/shoulder muscles, then it’s time to book a massage. Massage benefits are known to help our bodies feel more relaxed, including in our nervous and immune system, to allow us to become more well rested. Adding in routine massages can help you achieve that REM sleep we’re all striving for!
Call Botanica Day Spa today to book one of our top massage services and get ready for those refreshing zz’s with REM sleep!