Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This – REM and Sleep
We could be giants during the day and shake the world, but everyone, great and small, eventually succumbs to that overarching need for sleep. Fight it and go one full day without sleep and you could still be fine, two days, your body starts to show, three days, and you literally start to lose your mind. Like a battery that has run out of juice, our minds and bodies need sleep to recharge and the quality of our sleep directly affects our physical and mental health, and our overall performance during the rest of the day.
Sleep Cycles and Stages – REM Sleep
For humans and most other mammals, we sleep in different stages that make up a complete sleep cycle – REM sleep and non-REM or deep sleep. REM sleep stands for Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM Sleep).
During REM sleep, our brain activity spikes to levels similar to those when we are awake. REM sleep is particular recognizable for the sleeper’s rapid eye movement and this is also when we have the most vivid dreams, but even more important things happen during this sleep phase. During the REM cycle, the brain processes information received during the day and plasters all the important things into our long-term memories. REM sleep is considered very important to certain aspects of brain function including learning, memory, and mood.
Even more spectacular events occur during REM sleep. The muscles in the limbs and other parts of the body (apart from those we need to breathe, of course!), become temporarily paralyzed. Many experts believe that this is an evolutionary defense mechanism by the body to prevent us from acting out the vivid dreams we have during REM sleep. If you’re in a fist fight and saving your crush in your dream, this mechanism prevents you from actually throwing your fists in real life and hitting a sleep partner or injuring yourself.
If you are having trouble sleeping, you are not alone. In fact, one in three adults don’t get enough sleep according to the CDC. Chances are you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, but thankfully, most sleep disorders are treatable and can be prevented with some of the tips below.
Why You Need to Practice a Healthy Bedtime Routine
Many sleep disorders such as sleep deprivation that people suffer from are direct effects of their lifestyles. From busy schedules to frequent night-life outings, getting good sleep has become a challenge for many.
One of the best things you can do for your sleep and consequently your health, is to create a bedtime routine… and stick to it. As an adult, you should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep every day. Having a bedtime routine trains your brain and your body clock to recognize when it’s time to sleep and wake up. It is also one of the most effective ways to combat the effects of sleep deprivation.
Plus, your bedtime routine should extend beyond just when you sleep or wake up. It should also cover everything you do during the few hours before you go to bed – set an alarm, eat light, set the room temperature to one you find most comfortable, create a bedtime playlist, have a warm bath, relax, put all your gadgets away, and prepare your sleep fortress however you see fit. Indeed, your sleeping ritual sets up the mood for those final moments before bedtime and can dictate whether it will be a smooth transition into slumber or a difficult one.
Choose the Right Mattress
What’s the use of a bedtime routine if you don’t sleep comfortably? That’s where your sleeping oasis – your mattress, comes in. Mattresses come in different sizes, firmness levels, are made from different materials, and different prize ranges.
To choose the right mattress for the best sleep and the best value, you also have to consider how you sleep, whether you have a sleep partner, your budget, and the benefits the different mattresses come with.
You can check out our complete guide to choosing the right mattress that poses the right questions to consider in finding the perfect mattress companion for you. The right mattress should be as comfortable as possible and should be compatible with your dominant sleep position. We personally recommend a hybrid mattress like Simba, for sleepers who want the best of everything. If you want a mattress that hugs, we recommend the Nectar memory foam mattress.
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REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
An individual suffering from RBD will show typically symptoms of acting out dreams with violent movements like kicking, punching, and grabbing or vocalizing, and having full conversations with themselves. They also usually remember the dreams they had. RBD can get unbearable, more so for people with sleep partners.
Thankfully, REM sleep behavior disorder is treatable with medication and professional help. You can also manage RBD, by making changes to your sleeping fortress to minimize the risk of injury to you or your partner, and getting the right mattress to help you sleep more comfortably.
Sleep is one of the most essential physiological processes necessary for survival. And of all the different sleep stages, REM sleep is especially important as it has the most impact on our health and safety. Get good REM sleep and you wake up knowing how to start your day productively, don’t get enough, or have a REM sleep disorder, and you can wake up feeling groggy or to a sleep deprived partner. Observing a bedtime routine, choosing the right mattresses, and seeking medical help are some of the ways to prevent and combat the effects of sleep deprivation and manage sleep disorders. With the tips above, you can hit the pillow, enjoy uninterrupted sleep, and wake up feeling at your best. For more tips on finding the best mattress for you, check out our reviews of the best mattresses in 2021.