The POWER of REM Sleep

The power of deep sleep and REM sleep

We have posted blogs in the past about sleep, as it is one of our most important recovery tools! This blog will be focused around the importance of deep and REM Sleep. The quality of your sleep has a direct impact on your day to day life. 

Your sleep is regulated by your cardiac rhythm and sleep drive. When you are asleep, your brain switches between two different cycles: 

  • Non-REM sleep, which consists of three stages of sleep, each being deeper than the last
  • REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep is where you dream the most. Your eyes move back and forth during this stage, hence why it is called rapid eye movement sleep.

The stages of sleep

  • Non-Rem Sleep
  • Stage N1 (transition to sleep) – This is the stage when you first begin to fall asleep, and lasts about five minutes. Your body begins to relax, but you can easily be awakened
  • Stage N2 (light sleep) – This is the first stage of true sleep, and can last 10-30 min. You have no eye movement, a lower heart rate, and lower body temperature.
  • Stage N3 (Deep Sleep) – In this stage, you can be difficult to awaken. If you are woken, you will feel groggy and disoriented. Blood flow is directed away from your brain and instead towards your muscles to help restore energy.
  • REM Sleep
  • Dream Sleep – 70-90 minutes after falling asleep is when you enter REM sleep and where your dreams occur. Your body becomes “paralyzed” during this stage.

The importance of the quality of your sleep

It’s not just the number of hours in bed that matters, it’s also the quality of those hours. If you find that you’re giving yourself plenty of time to sleep but you are still having trouble waking up and staying away during the day, you may not be spending enough time in the stages of sleep. Each stage in the sleep cycle offers benefits to the sleeper. Deep sleep (N3) and REM sleep are the most important. 

Inadequate deep sleep can cause sleep deprivation and have damaging effects. This is the stage where your body repairs itself and builds energy for the next day. It plays a major role in maintaining your health, growth and development, repairing muscle and tissue and boosting your immune system. Getting adequate deep sleep is essential for waking up refreshed and energized.

Factors that affect deep sleep:

  • Being woken during the night.
  • Working night shifts or swing shifts. Quality deep sleep during the day can be difficult due to light and excess noise.
  • Smoking or drinking in the evening. These substances can disrupt deep sleep and it’s best to limit them before bed.

Just as deep sleep renews the body, REM sleep renews the mind by playing a role in learning and memory. Your brain consolidates and processes the information you learned from the day, strengthens memory by forming neural connections, and replenishes its supply of neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, which help boost your mood during the day.

Sleeping an extra 30-60 min in the morning helps to get more mind and mood-boosting REM sleep. Improving your overall sleep will also help increase REM sleep. Not getting enough deep sleep will leave your body trying to make up for that, which comes at the expense of REM sleep. 

Make sleep a priority. Just as you like to schedule time for work and other commitments, you should also schedule enough time each night for sleep. Don’t cut back on sleep to tackle other tasks. Put sleep at the top of your to-do list!

Happy sleeping!

  • Coach Matt

Kali Maurer