How to Improve REM Sleep for Better Health & Well-being

Written by: Alec Tremaine



Time to read 11 min

You know that feeling when you wake up groggy, like you barely slept at all? Chances are, you're not getting enough REM sleep . And let me tell you, that's a big problem. REM sleep is like the secret sauce to a healthy mind and body. It's when your brain processes emotions, memories, and learning. Without it, you're running on empty.

But here's the good news: you can improve your REM sleep. I'm talking about simple changes that can make a world of difference. Things like sticking to a sleep schedule, creating a cozy bedroom vibe, and saying no to late-night scrolling. It's not rocket science, but it works.

The Vital Role of REM Sleep in Health and Well-being

You know that feeling when you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day? That's the power of a good night's sleep, and REM sleep plays a crucial role in making that happen.

REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, is one of the most important stages of sleep. It's when your brain is most active, and it's essential for maintaining cognitive function, mood stability, and a strong immune system.

Adults typically spend around a quarter of their sleep time in the REM stage. This may appear to be a small portion, but it plays a significant role in keeping you healthy and feeling your best.

When you don't get enough REM sleep, you're more likely to experience cognitive impairment, mood disorders, and decreased immune function. So if you want to stay sharp, happy, and healthy, make sure you're getting enough of that precious REM sleep.

How Age, Medications, and Disorders Affect REM Sleep

We all wish we had more control over our sleep, but the truth is, many things can mess with our REM cycles. Getting older, taking certain meds, and dealing with sleep disorders can all throw off our sleep patterns, leaving us feeling tired and out of it the next day.

The Influence of Age on Sleep Patterns

As we get older, our sleep patterns naturally change. We tend to spend less time in deep sleep and more time in lighter stages of sleep, including REM sleep.

This can lead to more frequent awakenings throughout the night and a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. It's a normal part of aging, but it can still be frustrating when you're trying to get a good night's rest.

Medications That Can Disrupt REM Sleep

Certain medications, especially antipsychotic medications, can interfere with REM sleep. They can suppress REM sleep altogether or cause you to spend less time in this important stage of sleep.

If you're taking any medications and notice changes in your sleep patterns, talk to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication that doesn't have the same effect on your sleep.

Strategies to Increase REM Sleep for Better Health

Craving more of that deep, restorative REM sleep? Try these simple tips that I've found to be game-changers:

  1. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity has been shown to increase the amount of REM sleep you get each night. Just make sure you're not exercising too close to bedtime, or you might have trouble falling asleep. According to a peer-reviewed sleep study , working only heavy, "vigorous” exercise before bed delayed the ability to fall asleep by 1 hour on average.

  2. Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine can disrupt your sleep patterns and make it harder to get enough REM sleep. Try to avoid them, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. The half-life of caffeine is 5-6 hours! That means that 150mg of caffeine in your coffee at 3pm afternoon could mean 50+mgs are in your system at 9pm.

  3. Stick to a sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help regulate your body's internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. TIP: Your body does not actually know its Friday night…try to get to bed at the same time.

  4. Avoid blue light before bed : Struggling to catch some Z's after a late-night scrolling session? Blame the blue light from your devices! This sneaky sleep disruptor suppresses your body's melatonin production, making it harder to drift off to dreamland. To get your best rest, give yourself a digital curfew at least an hour before bed, or invest in some blue light blocking gear.

  5. Try taking CBN For Sleep: CBN , the lesser-known cousin of CBD that's gaining popularity as a natural sleep aid. CBN, or cannabinol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that has been shown to have sedative effects. Unlike CBD, which is non-psychoactive, CBN is mildly psychoactive and can produce a feeling of relaxation and drowsiness. Some sleep studies suggest that CBN may help to promote better sleep by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and increasing the duration of deep, restorative sleep. So if you're looking for a natural way to catch some quality Z's, CBN might be worth a try!

Remember, everyone's sleep needs are different. Some people may need more REM sleep than others to feel their best. But by making a few simple lifestyle changes, you can help ensure that you're getting the REM sleep your body needs to thrive.

Creating the Ideal Sleep Environment

Your sleep environment plays a big role in the quality of your sleep, including how much REM sleep you get each night. Here are a few tips for creating the perfect sleep sanctuary:

  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark . A cool room can help signal to your body that it's time to sleep, while a dark room can help regulate your body's production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. According to WebMd and Dr. Alon Avidan, the ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. You spend a third of your life in bed, so it's worth investing in a mattress and pillows that support your body and keep you comfortable throughout the night.

  • Minimize noise and distractions. If you live in a noisy area or have a partner who snores, consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to block out unwanted sounds.

By creating a sleep environment that's cool, dark, and comfortable, you'll be well on your way to getting the deep, restorative REM sleep your body craves.

The Science Behind REM Sleep and Dreaming

Have you ever wondered why we dream ? It turns out that dreaming is a crucial part of the REM sleep process.

During REM sleep, your brain is highly active, and your eyes move rapidly behind closed lids (hence the name "rapid eye movement"). This is also the stage of sleep when most dreaming occurs.

But dreaming isn't just a random occurrence. It's actually an important part of the memory consolidation process. When you dream, your brain is processing and storing information from the day, helping you to learn and remember new things.

In fact, studies have shown that people who are deprived of REM sleep have a harder time learning and retaining new information. So if you want to boost your brain power, make sure you're getting enough REM sleep each night.

Exercise's Role in Promoting Quality Sleep

Sure, hitting the gym keeps you in shape, but did you know that breaking a sweat can also lead to more restful Zs?

When you make physical activity a habit, your body rewards you with better sleep. You'll enjoy more deep sleep and REM sleep, the stages that help you feel the most rejuvenated. Falling asleep will be a breeze, and you'll greet the morning feeling alert and ready for anything.

But the key is to find the right balance. Exercising too close to bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep, so aim to finish your workout at least a few hours before you hit the hay.

Dietary Influences on Sleep Quality

What you eat (and when you eat it) can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Here are a few tips for optimizing your diet for better sleep:

  • Avoid large meals close to bedtime. Eating a heavy meal right before bed can cause indigestion and make it harder to fall asleep. Research shows that people who eat before bed wake up more frequently than those who do not. ( Cambridge )

  • Limit caffeine and alcohol. Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with your sleep patterns and make it harder to get enough REM sleep.

  • Choose sleep-promoting foods . Certain foods, like cherries, kiwis, and nuts, contain compounds that can help promote sleep. Incorporating these foods into your diet may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

By making a few simple changes to your diet, you can help ensure that you're getting the deep, restorative sleep your body needs to function at its best.

The Connection Between Sleep Hygiene and REM Sleep

Sleep hygiene is all about developing healthy habits that promote better sleep. And when it comes to getting enough REM sleep, good sleep hygiene is key.

Some simple sleep hygiene tips include:

  • Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule

  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine

  • Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet

  • Avoiding screens (like phones and laptops) before bed

With the right sleep hygiene techniques, you can boost your sleep quality and spend more time in the rejuvenating REM stage. Simple changes to your routine can make a big difference in how well-rested you feel each morning.

Navigating Sleep Disorders That Affect REM Sleep

For some people, getting enough REM sleep isn't as simple as adopting good sleep hygiene habits. Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea can disrupt the natural sleep cycle and make it harder to get the REM sleep you need.

Suspecting a sleep disorder? Your doctor is your ally. They'll diagnose the issue and craft a personalized treatment plan to help you reclaim your restful nights and energized days.

In some cases, treating the underlying sleep disorder can help restore normal REM sleep patterns and improve overall sleep quality. So don't hesitate to seek help if you're struggling to get the sleep you need.

The Role of Healthcare Providers in Managing Sleep Health

If you're having trouble sleeping, your healthcare provider can be a valuable resource. They can help you identify any underlying health issues that may be affecting your sleep and develop a personalized treatment plan.

Improving your sleep might mean making some changes to your daily routine, like practicing better sleep hygiene or switching up your diet and exercise habits. Your doctor may also suggest medications or other treatments to help you get a better night's rest.

Your healthcare provider is your ally in the quest for better sleep. Work hand in hand with them to uncover the strategies that suit you best. Together, you'll navigate the path to restful, restorative slumber, giving your body the support it needs to thrive.

Technology's Impact on Sleep Patterns

In today's digital age, it's hard to escape the constant barrage of screens and technology. But all that exposure to blue light and stimulating content can have a big impact on your sleep patterns. Sound scary? It should, according to studies , blue light can shift your circadian rhythms by 3 hours and reduce your melatonin production.

Did you know that scrolling through your phone or watching TV before hitting the hay can actually mess with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle? The blue light from these screens tricks your brain into thinking it's still daytime, which means your body won't produce enough melatonin to help you fall asleep and stay snoozing through the night.

So what can you do to mitigate the negative effects of technology on your sleep? Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime

  • Use blue light-blocking glasses or apps to reduce your exposure to blue light

  • Keep your bedroom a technology-free zone (that means no TVs, laptops, or phones.)

  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that doesn't involve screens (like reading a book or taking a warm bath)

By being mindful of your technology use and taking steps to minimize its impact on your sleep, you can help ensure that you're getting the restful, restorative sleep your body needs to thrive.

FAQs in Relation to How to Improve Rem Sleep

How do I increase my REM sleep?

To boost your REM sleep, stick to a consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime.

What causes poor REM sleep?

Poor REM sleep often stems from stress, an inconsistent sleep schedule, excessive use of alcohol or caffeine late in the day, certain medications, and untreated sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea.

How do you fix lack of REM sleep?

Fixing a lack of REM involves improving your overall sleeping habits. Create a restful environment—cool, dark, quiet—and limit screen time before bed. Consider seeing a healthcare provider if issues persist.

What supplement increases REM sleep?

Melatonin supplements can help regulate your circadian rhythm and potentially increase your amount of REM stage sleeps.

While research on CBN and sleep is still limited, some studies suggest that CBN gummies may help to extend the duration of the REM stage of sleep, which is crucial for memory consolidation, emotional processing, and brain development.

Always consult with a care provider before starting any new supplement regimen.


So there you have it, folks. The lowdown on how to improve REM sleep and feel like a million bucks. It's not about overhauling your whole life. It's the little things, like winding down before bed and keeping your sleep space sacred.

More REM sleep is a present you give to yourself, one that hones your mind, invigorates your body, and uplifts your spirit. You merit this gift, so start modestly and stay the course. Witness the wonders that follow, and your future self will applaud your dedication.

Alec Tremaine headshot

Alec Tremaine

Slumber Health and Wellness Enthusiast