Brains denied REM or dream sleep one night will make up the deficit the next night. Your inner film director will not be denied. Your body/brain regulates this on its own without your help. But there is an area where you need to take action, and it’s called rough and tumble play. Studies by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp show that animals denied rough and tumble play will make it up at the next opportunity much like the way brains regulate REM sleep.
How does “rough and tumble play” translate into 21st century adult behavior? The activities that will scratch that itch are sex, exercise, imaginative hobbies, singing, dancing, and laughing. Zumba class counts. Playing solitaire on your phone doesn’t. Bodies denied play host cranky people. Another reason to sing along with Adele at the farmer’s market or boogie to Mavis Staple on the way home.
We used to be hunter/gatherers; now we tap keys and search with “engines.” Have you ever gone to a wedding where everyone danced a traditional dance together? Felt great, right? Traditional cultures know something we’ve forgotten. Give the ghost of your spear carrier some play time.