Why you shouldn't cut back on sleep
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According to a new paper published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
, dream loss may be the reason for chronic inflammation, memory problems, or other health issues that are typically attributed to sleep deprivation.
Even if you don't remember them, your dreams during REM sleep help your brain digest all of the information that you took in during the day, which aids both your memory and immune system, says Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona's Center for Integrative Medicine. Unfortunately, notes Naiman, the modern lifestyle cuts sleep short in countless ways, and external factors like temperature and blue light from smartphones and alarm clocks can all reduce the amount of REM
sleep that you get. What is more, you only dream during REM, but your body prioritizes other stages of sleep if you're running a deficit.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“If you routinely need an alarm clock to wake up
then you are not getting enough REM sleep,” Naiman says. Instead, go to bed early enough so that you can rise naturally. Aim for seven to nine hours, since oversleeping can cause nightmares
. And if you can't live without an alarm, Naiman suggests opting for a dawn simulator, a lamp-like device that is less harsh than beeping models.