Thousands upon thousands of stimuli are acting on your brain every day, whether or not you realize it. Now more than ever it is crucial to get enough sleep — especially deep sleep — to process all of that information. More people need to know how to get more deep sleep.
Deep sleep is critical to a healthy brain. Without it you may become groggy, confused, or irritable. Sometimes a lack of deep sleep may even lead to more serious conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. Perhaps you’ve found yourself stirring often, having trouble falling asleep, or waking up feeling like you’ve barely slept at all. If that sounds familiar, read on to learn how to get more deep sleep.
WHAT IS DEEP SLEEP?
Deep sleep, or slow wave sleep, is the third stage of the sleep cycle. In stages one and two, the body slowly begins to cool down and function more slowly. Once it reaches deep sleep, all functions are at their slowest. The brain is able to reset and all of that extra energy goes to revitalizing the muscles, immune system, and more.
After deep sleep, the body enters REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is where dreaming occurs. These four stages repeatedly cycle throughout the night for varying lengths of time.
WHAT ARE SOME TIPS ON HOW TO GET MORE DEEP SLEEP?
SET A SCHEDULE
This one may seem simple, but it can make a big difference. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Experiment with different times to see what works best for your lifestyle. The key is to keep the schedule as consistent as possible.
If you find yourself wide awake during your newly scheduled bedtime, try some light reading. You can also try a simple breathing exercise.
Screens are a fun and inevitable aspect of everyday life, but they do little for sleep quality. Before you lie down for the evening, turn off the television, tablet, and laptop. You might also put your phone somewhere out of reach. The temptation to scroll until sleep will be strong at first. However, once you move past it, you will never look back.
DARKEN THE SPACE
You may fall asleep faster and sleep better if you make your sleeping space as dark as possible. In addition to powering down your TV, laptop, and tablet, close the blinds and unplug anything creating even the tiniest bit of light.
If your room doesn’t stay as dark as you’d like or you get most of your sleep during the daytime, try a sleep mask or blackout curtains.
CREATE A RITUAL
Bathing, reading, or journaling before you turn the lights out can be very soothing. Once you start to repeat the same activity or activities every night before bed, your body will understand that it’s time for sleep.
Increasing your body temperature in a bath or sauna can help significantly with getting more deep sleep. Journaling is also a great way to reduce stress in general.
STICK TO WATER BEFORE BEDTIME
Consuming alcohol, caffeine, or a big meal close to bedtime can interfere with a good night’s rest. Choose a “cutoff time” to stop consuming anything other than water an hour or two before bedtime. This goes for nicotine and other substances as well.
Vigorous exercise helps to increase deep sleep because it helps to wear out the body. Any form of physical activity is helpful. Some experts suggest that 20 to 30 minutes of jogging, running, or swimming are the most effective. Just be sure to work out earlier in the day instead of closer to bedtime.
CUT DOWN ON CARBS
Decreasing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet may be a helpful factor in how to get more deep sleep. Though more research is needed, some studies have shown that metabolizing fewer carbs and more healthful fats can help increase deep sleep times. Common sources of carbohydrates include potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, beans, and sugars.
It’s well known that stress can wreak havoc on the body, and your sleep cycles are no exception. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, zoom out for a moment to see what might be causing you stress.
As mentioned above, journaling before bed can be a helpful way to relieve stress. Yoga, meditation, and therapy can be useful tools as well.
There are also many breathing exercises you can do to relieve stress. Try to inhale for a count of five seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale for five seconds. Repeat this a few times until you begin to feel more relaxed.
CHANGE UP YOUR BEDDING
If all else fails, you may try changing your bedding. A new pillow, blanket, or mattress could be the key to unlocking a good night’s sleep. With so many advances in bedding technology, there are several options to choose from.
WHY DO YOU NEED DEEP SLEEP?
In a nutshell, deep sleep is the brain’s reset button. If the brain doesn’t have a chance to restore itself, it will have trouble consolidating new memories. Lack of deep sleep over time has been linked to increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
Now that you know how to get more deep sleep, let’s see why you need more of it.
IT SHARPENS MEMORY
The brain increases its glucose metabolism when it enters deep sleep. This helps with both short and long-term memory function by creating and storing new memories. It also aids in collecting and recalling information. Think of it as the time when the brain sorts and stores all the information that it gathered throughout the day.
IT AIDS GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Deep sleep is also the time when the pituitary gland releases hormones that aid development and growth. It’s when the body gets a chance to grow and regenerate the cells in its tissues. This is why children need so much sleep as their bodies go through growth spurts.
IT FACILITATES MUSCLE RECOVERY
The muscles are also replenished during deep sleep. Blood supply to the muscles increases because the brain is resting and therefore using up less energy. This allows the muscles to receive more oxygen and nutrients. That’s why getting enough deep sleep is especially crucial to anyone trying to build more muscle mass and increase strength.
IT REPLENISHES THE BRAIN
During deep sleep, the brain slows down significantly. This allows neurons to rest and restore after firing off throughout the day. The longer your brain spends in deep sleep, the more rested you’re likely to feel.
IT HELPS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Without sufficient deep sleep, your body doesn’t create as many of the special proteins that it needs to create immune responses. When you’re sick, you sleep a lot because your body needs time to make more of these proteins. Generally speaking, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can help you fight off more illnesses.
WHAT CAUSES LACK OF DEEP SLEEP?
Ideally, the body cycles through the four stages of sleep multiple times throughout the night. Deep sleep is the third stage. As the muscles relax, breathing and heart rate slow down. Deep sleep can last from 45 to 90 minutes at a time depending on how long you’ve been asleep.
Not everyone will experience the perfect sleep every night, though. If you’re feeling especially deprived, there might be a few factors at play.
NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH
Most experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults. This allows plenty of time for the brain to enter deep sleep multiple times. If the body is only down for a few hours, it may not spend enough time in deep sleep. This may leave you feeling groggy, irritable, confused, and forgetful.
The body must go through three other sleep stages before reaching deep sleep. Although deep sleep is the hardest stage to wake up from, the three stages before it are lighter. Waking up throughout the night can throw off the sleep cycle since it must start over again when you go back to sleep.
If your sleep is often interrupted by outside factors such as noise or light, try a sleep mask and/or ear plugs. You may also try listening to pink noise. Pink noise is random and has a lower frequency than white noise. It has also been shown to enhance the deep sleep state.
Sometimes stress can keep you from falling or staying asleep. As mentioned above, you may try breathing exercises, journaling, meditation, therapy, or yoga to help with that.
Sleepwalking, sleep eating, bedwetting, and night terrors happen during deep sleep. People with narcolepsy experience fragmented deep sleep as well. If you’re experiencing any of these disorders’ symptoms, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor or a sleep specialist. They can provide more specific information on how to get more deep sleep with these disorders.
The fourth stage of the sleep cycle, known as slow wave or deep sleep, is crucial to maintaining both physical and mental health. Deep sleep is one of the most critical factors in memory development. It also facilitates brain, muscle, and immune recovery.
Without deep sleep, the body may suffer an array of issues. Some of these are simply an inconvenience, such as irritability or trouble with short-term memory. Others can be devastating, such as Alzheimer’s or heart disease. A lack of deep sleep may stem from a number of things such as stress, not getting enough sleep overall, sleep interruptions, or sleep disorders.
When it comes to figuring out how to get more deep sleep, there are many options to try. Set a schedule with enough time to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Before bedtime, establish a soothing routine and cut down on screen time, alcohol, caffeine, and carbohydrates. It is also helpful to exercise early in the day and do your best to address and cope with any stressors in your life.
There is no way to pinpoint exactly how to get more deep sleep, but hopefully, now you’ve found a few potential solutions.