How Much Rem Sleep Should You Get Each Night?

Understanding the Importance of REM Sleep

Getting a sufficient amount of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is an integral part of a healthy sleep cycle. On average, adults should aim for around 90 to 120 minutes of REM sleep per night, which constitutes about 20-25% of their total sleep. For an adult who sleeps 7-8 hours per night, this translates to approximately 1.5 to 2 hours of REM sleep. However, the exact amount of REM sleep one needs can vary from person to person due to factors including age, lifestyle, and overall health.

What is REM Sleep?

The Sleep Cycle and REM

To appreciate the significance of REM sleep, it’s important first to understand the sleep cycle. Sleep is divided into several stages, which can be categorized into non-REM and REM sleep. The first three stages are non-REM, each progressively deeper than the last, and are followed by REM sleep. This cycle repeats itself several times throughout the night, with the period of REM sleep extending with each cycle.

The Characteristics of REM Sleep

REM sleep is the phase of sleep most associated with dreaming. During REM sleep, brain activity is similar to that during wakefulness, but your muscles are in a state of paralysis, which is thought to prevent you from acting out your dreams. Your eyes move rapidly in different directions, hence the name Rapid Eye Movement sleep.

The Role of REM Sleep in Health and Well-being

Memory Consolidation and Learning

REM sleep is critical for memory consolidation – the process by which short-term memories are solidified into long-term ones. It also plays an essential role in learning and problem-solving. A lack of REM sleep can negatively impact cognitive functions and overall brain health.

Mood Regulation

A healthy dose of REM sleep is beneficial for emotional and psychological well-being. Insufficient REM sleep is linked with mood disorders like depression and anxiety, as it compromises the brain’s ability to process emotional experiences.

Factors Affecting REM Sleep Duration and Quality


The amount of REM sleep one needs can change over a lifetime. Newborns spend most of their sleep in REM, whereas adults have less. As you age beyond adulthood, your sleep architecture might change, leading to even less REM sleep.

Lifestyle Choices

Caffeine and alcohol intake close to bedtime can reduce the quality and duration of REM sleep, as can certain medications and drugs. Moreover, inconsistent sleep schedules and stress are known to disrupt the sleep cycle, potentially reducing REM sleep.

Health Conditions

Certain disorders, such as sleep apnea, can severely fragment sleep, limiting the amount of REM sleep attainable. Furthermore, mental health issues like depression can affect REM sleep, often resulting in an irregular sleep cycle.

How to Improve REM Sleep

Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule

A consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your body’s internal clock and can increase the quality and duration of REM sleep. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

Create a Restful Environment

Your sleeping environment should be conducive to rest. Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine if necessary.

Monitor Diet and Exercise

Avoiding heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime can contribute to better REM sleep. Regular exercise is also beneficial, but try to finish workout sessions several hours before going to bed.

Manage Stress

Since stress can interfere with sleep, incorporating relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or gentle yoga before bed may improve sleep quality.

Limit Screen Time

Exposure to the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Limit the use of electronic devices before bedtime, or use blue light filters to minimize the impact.

Tracking Your Sleep

With the advent of sleep trackers and smartwatches, monitoring sleep patterns has never been easier. These devices can help you track the amount of REM sleep you’re getting and recognize patterns that might be disrupting your sleep quality. While these tools aren’t perfect and shouldn’t replace professional medical advice, they can provide insights that could help you make beneficial lifestyle adjustments.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you’re consistently struggling to get refreshing sleep despite good habits, it may be time to consult with a healthcare provider. Problems with sleep can be symptomatic of underlying health conditions that may require professional attention.

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Finishing Thoughts

In summary, while the general guidance for REM sleep is around 1.5 to 2 hours per night for adults, it’s important to listen to your body and consider your own unique needs and circumstances. Improving overall sleep hygiene and being conscious of lifestyle choices can help optimize REM sleep, and in turn, support your cognitive, emotional, and physical health. Remember, your sleep quality is a pillar of your overall well-being, so invest in it just as you would any other aspect of your health. If sleep disturbances persist, professional medical advice should be sought to ensure any underlying issues are addressed.


  • Ashton Roberts

    I love learning and sharing everything about sleep. I am one of the energetic editors here at GoodSleepHub, where I talk about how to get a better night's sleep. When I'm not writing, I'm probably walking my dog Luna or trying out new sleeping gadgets. My goal is to help you sleep easier and better. Join me, and let's find simple ways to enjoy great sleep every night!

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