We might all be sleeping, but are we really getting the sleep we truly need?
Our lifestyle hampers us from sleeping better. It may be caused by our hectic work schedule or our Korean Drama binge watching addiction (!).
But one thing’s for certain, if you want to live longer, you should not only be sleeping, you should also be dreaming. And dreaming provides you great health benefits!
Stages of Sleep: Non-REM and REM
There is more to dreaming than waiting for the lucky lottery number or a “sign” for your future relationships.
To understand more, let us discuss how we actually fall to sleep. In a night’s sleep, a person experiences multiple 90-minute cycles with 2 states: non-REM and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) states.
The Non-REM state consists of three stages namely N1, N2, and N3.
Stage N1 is light sleep where a person can be awakened easily. The eyes move slowly and the muscles are in a calm state. This stage accounts for 5 – 10% of our sleep.
In stage N2, the person’s conscious awareness disappears and the muscles are in a calmer state compared to N1. Furthermore, sleep spindles occur in this phase. These are “waves patterns” that are unique in stage 2. They are believed to refresh our minds for new learning the next day. This point accounts for 45%-55% of our sleep.
In stage N3, the person experiences deep sleep. Slow delta brainwaves are almost exclusively seen at this stage. At this point, there is no eye movement or muscle activity. This is the regeneration phase. The body repairs itself during this moment and it accounts for 15% – 25% of our sleep.
The REM state
The REM stage is where we experience dreams. This stage is characterized by increased brain activity. It activates visual, emotional, and motor memories in our brain. And we experience vivid dreams.
In this state, the body completely paralyzes us to avoid our body to physically enact our dreams. It also shuts down the logical areas; that is why we sometimes have dreams that are completely nonsensical.
The REM state is said to be 20% – 25% of our sleep.
Why is REM beneficial?
Also, one study theorized that sleeping might be our body’s way of recalibrating our sense organs and brain-body functions. Like a machine, recalibration refreshes our body to be in an almost perfect condition the next day.
The ability to read human emotions is another perk of abundant REM. It makes us more empathetic, more aware of a threat, and more likely to feel happy throughout the day.
How do we get more REM?
Now that we know the benefits of REM, how do we get to dream more every day? We know REM happens every 90-minute cycle of sleep. But then, it important to note that the proportion of REM during this 90-minute vary.
At the early 90-minute cycles, REM duration is lesser because our body prioritizes N3 Deep Sleep for healing and repair. But then, as we sleep longer, the REM duration lengthens during the latter part of our sleep.
With this, the only way to get more REM is to sleep longer hours. Sleepfoundation.org recommend different hours of sleep for different ages.
Luckily, we have these 7 habits to cultivate for better sleep.
If our schedules aren’t as flexible, we should at least try to go to bed at the same time. This allows us to train our circadian rhythm (natural body clocks) to wake up at the same hour. It gives us more consistent hours of sleep
If we set this up right, our dependence on alarm clocks might be lessened. Alarm clock dependence disrupts our circadian rhythm. A free-flowing body clock leads to more REM hours.
Significantly lesser alcohol, nicotine, and drugs would also be beneficial. It will give better sleep overall. And detox from these substances is healthful to your body anyways. Not to mention, it prevents you from dying slowly from diseases or being killed from the Philippines war on drugs.
Some people with obstructive sleep apnea such as snoring can have difficulty in achieving restful sleep. Their causes may vary. But then, there are available self-medication and treatments. Usually, this involves lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and losing weight. It is best to ask your doctor for the best procedure for you.
We might have different hours of sleep. But after this, we might not only be excited with our crush appearing in our dreams but also live a longer life in the process. Have a good night’s sleep everyone!