Pillow designed by Yazmin Alanis from the Noun Project

Pillow designed by Yazmin Alanis from the Noun Project

We know REM sleep is important for productivity because it’s the deepest part of sleep, where the brain makes connections and regulates emotions. Missing out on REM sleep means you’re bound to be short tempered and less likely to produce effective work. Over on Inc, neuroscience writer Christine Comaford shares a few ways to boost your stamina if you’re not getting the recommended eight hours of average sleep each night:

Get 20 more minutes of sleep….20 minutes more sleep per night can boost performance at work two to three times. Wow! How can you get 20 more minutes? Go to bed earlier, sleep later, take a 20-minute power nap, or perhaps even use what she calls a “sleep proxy” (meditation, reflective walking). A 10- to 20-minute nap is tremendously effective, too; just be sure to stop at 20 minutes…as you’ll wake up feeling groggy.

Moderate stress. Chronic stress results in your body cranking out cortisol, which is toxic to brain cells. Excessive stress may also shrink your hippocampus and make your amygdala hyperactive. In escalated stress, we focus on negative memories, too. One solution is to activate your parasympathetic system with a five-minute visualization or relaxation exercise, short walk, burst of exercise, or breathing exercises. All are likely to build neural tissue.

Comaford explains that spotting the signs you’re REM sleep-depraved are simple enough: excessive negative attitude, irritability, general crabbiness, and seeing things as general hopeless.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, the solution could be as simple as getting 20 more minutes of rest, moderating your stress that day, and finding ways to boost positive emotions (like spending a few minutes watching funny videos).

Read Comaford’s full insights on tips for combating the negative affects of REM sleep deprivation over on Inc.

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