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The Importance of REM Sleep + 5 Things That Affect Your Sleep Cycle

You may already know that your body and mind go through various phases as you sleep. One of the most important phases your body experiences each night is REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement, and this is the deepest stage of sleep. It usually occurs in the early morning, and this is when you experience the most intense dreams. You typically experience this phase of sleep four or five times per night.

Scientists are constantly learning more about sleep, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that getting enough REM sleep each night is very important. During this phase of sleep, your body is typically quite still, although your breathing and heart rate will speed up. Your brain restores its chemical balance and forms long-term memories. This sleep phase also stimulates your central nervous system, and your brain is incredibly active during this time.

If you don’t get full, healthy sleep cycles each night, it will be difficult for you to be productive during the day. You might find yourself experiencing mood swings, and you’ll be more susceptible to illness. There are a variety of things that can prevent you from having healthy sleep cycles, and knowing what these things are can make a big difference. Here are five key factors that can affect your sleep cycles.

Caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant, and although it can be helpful in the mornings, it’s important to be careful with your caffeine consumption in the evenings. Caffeine is found in most coffees, as well as many sodas and teas. If you drink it too late in the day, you might find yourself wound up and unable to fall or stay asleep. Cut your caffeine consumption by 2 PM. If you want a warm drink to sip on, try warm lemon water or tea without caffeine.

Bonus: Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe
2 teaspoons of organic, raw high-quality cacao
8 oz unsweetened almond or coconut milk
2 teaspoons monk fruit or 5 drops stevia
Blend together and sip!

Eating too close to bedtime.

If you eat late and then hit the sack, you may be disrupting the quality of your sleep. Eating increases your metabolism, which keeps your bodily processes moving and heart rate elevated rather than relaxing. Try eating your last meal two-three hours before you go to bed.

Screen usage.

We spend a lot of time these days using electronics, like computers and smartphones, that project excessive amounts of blue light. This can be harmful to our eyes and keep us awake at night. Wearing blue light glasses or switching to light-sensitive settings on your devices can mitigate the effects to a certain extent, but you should still try to turn the electronics off before bedtime.

Napping for too long during the day.

In general, you should try to avoid napping for long periods if you want to get a really restorative night’s sleep. If you need to rest during the day, stick to a 20-30 minute nap or take this time to meditate.

Smoking.

Nicotine is another stimulant that can keep you up. Of course, we all know that smoking can be harmful, but if you’re not ready to quit, try to at least cut back at night.