At times, getting enough deep sleep can be difficult. Deep sleep, also called slow-wave sleep, is when your heart rate and breathing are at their slowest. Your brain waves slow down, blood pressure lowers, and your muscles relax. During this type of sleep, your body repairs tissues and strengthens its immune system.
Getting more deep sleep can be tricky if you are not aware of your current sleeping habits and don’t have a bedtime routine. Some of us don’t even know what “quality sleep” is! If you’re wondering what kind of sleep you are getting, and want to get more, keep reading!
Why Is Sleeping Important?
Are you dozing off at work? Finding it hard to concentrate on reading any of this? You might be suffering from sleep deprivation! Sleeping is crucial for brain health, alertness, and your body’s overall well-being. Without healthy sleep, your brain cannot function properly or process information optimally. Sleep is an essential function meant to recharge your body and mind!
Good sleep is a large factor behind keeping your body in tip-top shape! While making healthy food choices and exercising are great lifestyle choices, their benefits are lessened without a good night’s rest. These are a few good things sleep does for you:
- Staying at a healthy weight.
- Healthy immune system.
- Reduce stress and improve mood.
- Lower your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease.
You might be asking, how does sleep help us reap all these benefits? Well, enter the Human Growth Hormones (HGH). When we go to sleep, our body produces these hormones that help us grow during childhood. As adults, HGH is produced to maintain and repair muscles, fibers, and tissues throughout our bodies. Our bodies can produce less of these hormones when sleep deprived, making it hard to maintain and repair your body.
What Are the Stages of Sleep?
There are a four main stages of sleep, each one important in its own way. You can count them on one hand! Let’s take a look at how our body unwinds and repairs at the end of a long day.
People enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep after about 90 minutes of snoozing. This sleep stage repeats through the night and is the time when dreaming happens because there is an increase in brain activity. Here is a look into the different stages of your REM sleep cycle!
This stage is known as “awake time.” This is just what it sounds like — the time you lay awake before or after sleep. This also includes brief awakenings during sleep.
Stage two is when you enter light sleep. Light sleep guides you into deeper stages. Here are a few things that may occur during this stage.
- Muscles relax and may jerk.
- Respiration slows.
- Heart rate decreases.
- Body temperature drops.
- Sleep transitions between cycles.
Stage 3 + Stage 4
These last two stages combined make up that sweet spot of your sleep cycle — deep sleep! This is the most important part of your cycle. During this stage of sleep, your blood pressure drops and the body promotes muscle growth and repair. Waking up from this sleep is more difficult, and you are disoriented if awoken.
What Are the Benefits of Deep Sleep?
If you have ever tossed and turned in the middle of the night, you probably woke up feeling like you got no sleep at all. Lack of deep sleep can be the cause of many negative side effects, including:
- Negative moods
- Fatigue or sluggishness
- Lack of focus
- Weakened memory
- Increased stress
- Higher risk of accidents
This is why deep sleep is crucial for your everyday functioning and beneficial beyond just feeling well-rested. Sleep repairs and fortifies our bodies, but deep sleep gives us even more benefits. Increase deep sleep and your body will thank you!
During the third stage of sleep, our brain waves slow to delta waves. This is why deep sleep is also known as slow-wave sleep. Delta waves are slow enough to give our minds a break for a while. Since our brains take up so many of our internal resources, this stage of sleep allows us to “shut our brains off.” Deep sleep allows our bodies to be the center of attention and focus on bodily repair.
Other benefits of deep sleep include:
- Cell regeneration
- Increased blood supply to muscles
- Energy restoration
- Tissue bone growth/repair
What Happens if You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Getting enough deep sleep is vital for your overall health. Sleep deprivation’s symptoms will creep up on you like many things that you may ignore at first! It will disrupt your circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep and wake cycle.
A night without good sleep leaves us feeling tired and maybe needing a little more coffee than we normally would. We’ve all been there. Inadequate sleep can cause an inverse sleep schedule, making you feel tired during the day and energized at night. This eventually becomes a never-ending cycle!
Disruptive deep sleep inhibits the growth hormones that our bodies release. These hormones can affect our appetite, and a poor night’s sleep can cause excessive hunger the following day.
How to Get More Deep Sleep
Getting the best quality of sleep goes hand in hand with the amount of sleep you get nightly. At times, we may feel tired even if we got over 7 hours of sleep. This can be caused by interrupted, restless sleep.
Since deep sleep is one of the final stages of your REM sleep cycle, it can be tricky to get a good amount every night. Here are a few tips to ensure that you are getting the most out of your sleep!
Create a Set Bedtime Schedule
Training our circadian rhythm is similar to training for a marathon! Except…this isn’t a race. When we go to sleep at the same time every night, we are training our circadian rhythm.
The best way to achieve this is to set a bedtime routine. Try falling asleep at the same time, but also try to wake up at the same time every morning. Remember, it is recommended that adults get about 7 to 9 hours of deep sleep every night. This means if you wake up at six every morning, you should be snuggled up by 9 or 10pm the night before.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Working out and good sleep make a great team! Our bodies are more eager to sleep after a long workout, and while we rest, the therapeutic properties of the HGH hormone repair our muscles and tissues.
It is not necessary to exercise at night to reap the benefits of deep sleep. One of its most important functions is tissue and muscle repair, so working out at any time is beneficial! If you need help staying off that snooze button in the morning, maybe exercising can help you get better sleep.
Drink Lots of Water
Believe it or not, dehydration can lead to poor sleep. Dehydration can dry out the nose, mouth, and throat. This dryness can cause snoring throughout the night and hoarseness in the morning.
Not drinking enough water can cause cramps that are quite painful and pull you out of deep sleep. Drinking enough water throughout the day benefits your overall health.
Melatonin For Short Term Use
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone found in the body, and it plays a vital role in our sleep cycles. Boosting our melatonin levels may help us sleep, but it is only recommended for short-term use.
Since melatonin is a hormone, long-term use may interfere with other hormonal processes like puberty and menstruation. Melatonin supplements may help you catch a few extra Z’s to help you sleep better!
Try CBD Before Going to Bed
While melatonin is not suitable for long-term use, other natural nighttime remedies include CBD! Cannabidiol sends a wave of relaxation over you, soothing the mind and preparing your body for slow-wave sleep.
CBD is a cannabinoid present in the hemp plant. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. This interaction supports the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our ECS is responsible for digestion, heart rate, breathing, and other functions that increase our ability to have a good night’s sleep.
The good news is, you can use CBD to complement your ECS. CBD may assist you with the amount and quality of deep sleep you get each night. In addition, it won’t induce any intoxicating or drowsy effects. So you won’t feel like you just got home from a long night of partying!
Replace Old Pillows
Sometimes your pillows are the culprits that have been stealing your sleep. Believe it or not, a few signs could point towards needing a new pillow or pillowcase.
Waking up congested could be the cause of many things. Did you sleep with the fan on? Did you stay out too late last night? Believe it or not, your pillow can attract dust mites or other allergens that keep you from the third stage of sleep. Hypoallergenic pillowcases can be a quick and easy solution!
Maybe you need more support or less support. Depending on your preference, you may want to look into buying a completely new pillow!
Use Pink Noise
You might have heard of white noise before, often described as “background noise.” So, what is pink noise? White noise and pink noise differ in the frequency of sound waves. White noise is a sound with even powered frequency, whether increasing or decreasing. When pink noise increases in frequency, its power decreases. The sound of ocean waves crashing on the sand, a waterfall, or a breeze are all examples of pink noise. Think of this as the most pleasurable noises nature has to offer.
Remove Loud Noises & Bright Lights
We are exposed to light all day: sunlight, fluorescent light, and blue light from our phones, computers, and televisions. Excessive amounts of blue light can damage retinal cells.
Loud noises are also a sleep deterrent. Duh! Watching TV and dozing off can interrupt your sleep cycle because your mind is still being stimulated. To avoid this, try to turn off all electronics.
Create a Routine Before You Sleep
Creating a nighttime routine that helps in soothing and relaxing you is a way to train your brain for deep sleep. The brain loves a schedule and regimen. It is easy to follow, and it provides you with many benefits. Try to avoid electronic devices before bed and read or meditate instead!
Final Thoughts – How to Get More Deep Sleep
Sleep is all about routine. Having consistency throughout your day and even during nighttime routines is the best way to ensure the best sleep.
You can tailor your sleep schedule to your specific needs. Use this guide to help you structure a routine that fits your lifestyle!