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How To Get More REM Sleep

How To Get More REM Sleep?

Do you often wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed, even after a full night’s sleep?

The quality of your sleep might be lacking in a crucial component: REM sleep. REM, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, is a vital part of our sleep cycle that significantly impacts our overall well-being.

Today’s blog will explain what REM sleep is, why it’s essential, and how to get more REM sleep.

What Is REM Sleep?

REM i.e. Rapid Eye Movement sleep is one of the five stages of the deep sleep cycle, distinguished by rapid movement of the eyes, increased brain activity, vivid dreams, and temporary muscle paralysis.

This sleep stage typically occurs 90 minutes after falling asleep and repeats several times throughout the night, becoming progressively longer.

During REM sleep, the brain is almost as active as when you’re awake, indicating its critical role in processing information, consolidating memories, and supporting cognitive functions.

Why Is REM Sleep Important?

REM sleep plays an important role in various bodily and mental processes. Listed below are the benefits of REM sleep:

  • Memory Consolidation: REM sleep helps in organizing and storing information from the day, converting short-term memories into long-term ones.

  • Emotional Regulation: It helps in processing emotions, reducing stress, and improving mood.

  • Brain Development: In infants and young children, Rapid Eye Movement sleep is crucial for brain development.

  • Physical Health: It also supports the body’s repair processes, strengthens the immune system, and contributes to overall physical health.

  • Cognitive Function: REM sleep enhances problem-solving skills and creativity by making new connections between different pieces of information.

How To Get More REM Sleep?

Here’s how to increase REM sleep:

Develop and Follow a Sleep Schedule


Consistency is key. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to enter and sustain REM sleep.

Treat Sleep Disorders

Conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome can severely disrupt sleep. Seeking treatment for these sleep disorders can significantly improve sleep quality and duration.

Avoid Taking Sleep Aids

While sleep medications can be helpful in the short term, they can interfere with the natural sleep cycle, reducing the amount of REM sleep. It’s better to focus on natural sleep aids and behavioral changes.

Refrain from Alcohol, Caffeine, and Tobacco

These substances can disrupt the sleep cycle. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster but can reduce the amount of REM sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can make it harder to fall asleep and decrease overall sleep quality.

Practice Sleep Hygiene Techniques

Create a sleep-conducive environment i.e. keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, avoid screens before bedtime, and reserve the bed for sleep and intimacy only.

Eat Magnesium-rich Foods

Magnesium promotes relaxation and sleep. Foods that are rich in magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, and whole grains. A balanced diet can support better sleep quality.

Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, but avoid vigorous activity close to bedtime.

How Much REM Sleep Should I Get?

Adults need about 20-25% of their total sleep time in the REM sleep stage, which is approximately 90-120 minutes per night, depending on individual sleep needs. 

Infants and children require more REM sleep due to its role in brain development. While the exact amount can vary, achieving sufficient REM sleep is necessary for cognitive and emotional health.

What Causes Lack of REM Sleep?

Several factors can disrupt REM sleep, including:

  • Stress and Anxiety: High stress levels can interfere with the ability to achieve deep, restorative sleep.

  • Irregular Sleep Patterns: Shift work or irregular sleep schedules can disrupt the natural sleep cycle.

  • Medications: Certain medications, particularly antidepressants and stimulants, can reduce REM sleep.

  • Substance Use: Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine can negatively affect REM sleep.

  • Medical Conditions: Sleep disorders and other health issues can hinder the ability to enter and maintain Rapid Eye Movement sleep.

When To Talk To A Doctor

If you consistently struggle with poor sleep quality, experience excessive daytime sleepiness, or suspect you have a sleep disorder, it’s very important for you to seek medical advice.

A healthcare provider, such as Manhattan Medical Arts, can help diagnose underlying conditions, suggest appropriate treatments, and offer guidance on improving sleep hygiene.


Achieving sufficient REM sleep is essential for your health and well-being. By understanding its importance and how to improve REM sleep, you can enhance your sleep quality, and eventually quality of life overall.

If sleep problems persist, do not hesitate to consult with the healthcare experts at Manhattan Medical Arts.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health-related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 06/05/2024

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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