I used to think that I’m special because I could remember “all” the dreams I have during my sleep. It turns out that I’m actually remembering only a fraction of them. A recent chat with Beacon Hospital consultant ENT, snoring and sleep apnea specialist Dr Raymond Tan, revealed that I’ve probably just woken up in the middle of a REM sleep stage — the stage where dreams occur — to remember the bits. I’ve been monitoring my sleep patterns on my Fitbit Versa 2 for about 10 days now, and it tells me that I’m getting enough sleep. Clean sleeping (a term coined by Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow for 7-8 hours of quality sleep) really does make a difference to how I feel about the rest of the day in terms of helping with issues like anxiety.
I think it pays to keep a dream diary as well. You can start by jotting down all that you remember from your daily dreams as soon as you wake up. This has helped me to identify recurring dreams and dream patterns, and connect the dots to my actions, experiences and emotions that I may have had during the day(s) leading up to the dreams — however good or bad they are. Even if you don’t care for dream patterns, keep a dream journal any way because dreams make for an out-of-the-world fiction. I’ve gotten so many creative ideas from my dreams, and translated them into real life. So, don’t discount the power of your dreams, even if scares you sometimes.
The REM Sleep Stage
On a serious note, the dream stage, or the REM sleep could be a part of processing new memories, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications. REM sleep, which is typically experienced 90 minutes after falling asleep, is also associated with learning new information and maintaining important neural pathways. A lack of this sleep could affect your memory, mood, cognitive performance and cell regeneration processes, and it could also mess with your athletic performance. A SHAPE report quoted a 2017 study (using data from over 6 million Fitbit trackers) by Fitbit which found that that while sleeping longer can lead to getting more deep and REM sleep, sleeping seven to eight hours gives you the highest combined percentage of time in these stages.
Dr Raymond says while deep sleep is vital for physical repair and restoration, REM sleep is vital for mental restoration. A person should be getting about 20% of REM sleep and 30% to 40% of light and deep sleep combined.
“Sleep is also a healing time. During sleep, the system in the brain flushes out toxins, a specific protein called beta-amyloid that is known for accumulating in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The clearance of this toxic protein is the highest during sleep,” he explained.
If you’re serious about keeping a track of your sleep patterns and getting enough sleep, Fitbit Versa 2, which was just recently launched in Malaysia, has a lot to offer in this area in terms of helping you form good sleep habits. I found it motivating when I could see in numbers and graphs how I’ve slept for the night. These sleep information, which is tracked via your movements and heart rate by the watch, include REM, deep and light sleep stages, and time awake.
Here’s what you get from it. Swipe right.