Slacking on your REM sleep could increase your overall risk of death from several diseases, according to a new study.
Rapid eye movement – or REM sleep – is the stage of sleep where people dream and information is stored in memory. On average, 20-25% of your night’s sleep should be spent in the REM stage. It can harm your career and spending less time in REM sleep can increase mortality risk with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study, published online by JAMA Neutrology, looked at sleep patterns of more than 2,5000 men in a trial that analyzed male sleep disruption between 2003 and 2016 from data collected in the “outcomes of Sleep Disorders in Older Men Sleep Study.” Researchers administered sleep studies for at home at the beginning of the trial, while also using a sleep watch to measure sleep in a four-day period. In addition, researchers used data from the “Wisconsin Sleep Cohort” which has been collecting data for more than 20 years on sleep ailments. The separate analysis involved 1,375 men and women and looked at health outcomes every four years.
In the “Outcomes” study, men had a 13% higher cardiovascular and overall death rate over a 12-year period for every 5% of REM sleep lost. Similar results were seen in the Wisconsin sleep study which affected both younger participants and women.
Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine told CNN that the effect of short REM time on mortality had not been previously shown in studies.
Polotsky, who wasn’t affiliated with the study, said the study did not include a few key measures including a representative sample of African Americans and other races while calling for more research on how depression affects the study’s results.
“I would take [the study results] with a grain of caution. Further studies needed to exclude a possible contribution of depression and to examine this relationship in other races,” Polotsky said via CNN.