How To Improve Rem Sleep with Exercise

May 15, 2024

When achieving your fitness goals, recovery can be just as important as getting a good workout in. Poor sleep can reduce muscle mass, so making sure that you get a solid eight hours after hitting the gym is necessary for you to stay on track. 

Just sleeping for eight hours alone isn’t going to cut it. You need to make sure that you’re getting REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep in order to recover fully. REM sleep is crucial for cognitive function, memory consolidation, and overall health. By adopting certain exercise, recovery, and stretching habits, you can optimize your chances of experiencing deeper and more restorative REM sleep.

As you try to improve your sleep, learn more about how exercise and stretching can help improve REM sleep and some strategies you can follow to optimize your rest.

How to Improve REM Sleep With Exercise

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy, and its positive impact on sleep is one of the biggest benefits it can provide. Engaging in physical activity helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which governs sleep-wake cycles. 

Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, can improve overall sleep quality. While this type of exercise may actually reduce REM sleep, it may help you get higher-quality REM sleep, as you’ll be more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. If you can, you should aim to exercise for about 30 minutes most days of the week, but be mindful not to exercise too close to bedtime, as this can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, can also promote REM sleep by reducing symptoms of insomnia and the things that may be causing it, like depression. If you make it a habit to intentionally get a good amount of sleep, it can help build up other good habits that will improve your mood and life. Incorporating resistance training into your fitness routine a few times a week can lead to more restful sleep and enhance the restorative effects of REM sleep.

How to Improve REM Sleep With Stretching

Stretching is often overlooked as a tool for increasing REM sleep. However, it plays a significant role in promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension, both of which are essential for a restful night. Most people know that they should stretch their body out before they start exercising, but it also helps reduce the risk of injury after a hard workout, and some research supports its ability to improve REM sleep.

Focus on stretching the major muscle groups, including the back, shoulders, hips, and legs. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and breathe deeply throughout. Rehab tools like foam rollers are also a great way to get an extra deep stretch if you have a specific area that’s been giving you trouble. 

There are a lot of great routines on websites like YouTube, and your local gym will most likely have a yoga class you can attend to ensure you’re using the proper stretching techniques. 

4 Strategies for Optimal REM Sleep

In addition to regular exercise, prioritizing effective recovery is essential for achieving quality REM sleep. Proper rest between workouts allows the body to repair and rebuild muscle tissue, leading to better overall sleep quality. Here are some recovery strategies to consider:

  • Sleep Hygiene: Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and stick with it, even on weekends. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down is a great way to get into this habit.
  • Nutrition: Consuming a balanced diet that includes a healthy amount of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and good fats can support REM sleep. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol when it’s close to your bedtime, as these can disrupt REM sleep patterns.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching into your bedtime routine to promote relaxation and loosen your body up before you go to bed.
  • Recovery Modalities: Take advantage of various recovery modalities, such as foam rolling, massage therapy, or breathing exercises, to alleviate muscle tension and promote relaxation. All of these can help facilitate deeper REM sleep.

Improve Your Sleep by Exercising at City Fitness 

City Fitness can help you achieve your health goals by facilitating the incorporation of exercise, recovery, and stretching habits into your daily routine. All three of these combined will have a profound impact on your REM sleep quality. If you’re looking for courses we offer to help you on your journey to healthy sleeping, check out our class schedule and find a yoga class to attend at one of our City Fitness locations.

City Fitness is also delighted to offer all newcomers a Complimentary Experience that allows them to come and check out any of our locations for a day at no cost to them. Come take a class and hit up the sauna when you’re done!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the closest City Fitness to you.