How to Increase Deep Sleep for better health
If you’ve ever woken up from a deep sleep, you understand how frustrating it is to wake up before you’re ready to get up.
This is mainly because deep sleep is essential for feeling and performing at our highest level and being who we are meant to be.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, this isn’t just going to make you tired — it’s creating a cycle of constant forgetfulness and worst chronic fatigue.
If you’re relying on coffee and naps to compensate for lack of deep sleep that we all know is so important, don’t worry, there are ways of getting your sleep back on track.
In this article, I’m going to share with you what everyone needs to know about deep sleep, how the brain cycles work, and what’s going wrong for your rest to increase your deep sleep for a healthier tomorrow.
So, What Even Is Deep Sleep? The Sleep Stages Explained
Sleep experts say that sleep has two main stages: non-rem sleep and REM sleep.
The stage of sleep we are in is controlled by natural cycles in our brain activity.
These two sleep states are vital for proper rest and the rejuvenate of the body.
First, let me explain non-rem sleep. NREM sleep is a dreamless and slow-wave brain state that includes four steps of the sleep cycle.
The first stage of sleep, as you can imagine, is the lightest stage of sleep.
For example, this is the stage of sleep is the level reached during short naps.
If you are relying on this kind of sleep to get throughout the day, it doesn’t typically leave a person feeling well-rested.
During this stage, the brain produces both what we call alpha and theta waves.
This is the perfect stage of sleep you want to get to for an energizing power nap.
During stage 2, sleep:
- People become less aware of their surroundings
- Body temperature drops
- Breathing and heart rate become more regular
- Body temperature decrease
- Heart rate begins to slow
When you look sleep wave graphs, this is where the brain begins to produce bursts of rapid and rhythmic brain wave activity known as sleep spindles; these waves eventually slow down to induce a deeper rest in the later stages.
People spend approximately 50% of their total sleep at this stage.
Stages Three and Four
These are the stages where the brain activity slows down and dips into an increase of delta brain waves and deep restorative sleep.
- Muscles relax
- Blood pressure and breathing rate drop
- Deepest sleep occurs
- The brain becomes more active
- Body becomes relaxed and immobilized
- Dreams occur
- Eyes move rapidly (REM)
We consider the third and fourth stages of deep sleep or slow-wave sleep (SWS).
While in these stages, it will be harder to wake, and you will feel more refreshed if they complete the cycle before waking up.
Being woken up at this stage of sleep in particular before it is complete will lead to fatigue, confusion, and a general feeling of lack of rest.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep
While when we sleep, we spend more time in NREM sleep; that doesn’t mean REM sleep isn’t essential. REM sleep begins about an hour and a half after falling asleep.
This after you go through the first four stages of NREM sleep, we just discussed.
REM sleep is characterized by an uptick in eye movement, heart rate, and blood pressure. Breathing can also become quick, broken, or shallow.
REM sleep also increases our brain activity and stimulates the parts of the brain that are responsible for visual, motor, emotional, and experiecne processing.
It’s normal to typical to go through five or six cycles of REM sleep in a night. REM stages get longer throughout the course of your sleep.
This is partly why we often wake up the next day with vivid dreams still clear in our minds.
Being awakened up mid-REM sleep will likely help you remember a dream you were having, but it will also leave you feeling tired and sluggish because the cycle wasn’t completed.
If you don’t have a great mattress, pillow, or have distractions during the night, you can expect to have the REM sleep stage constantly disrupted.
Why Deep Sleep Matters
The key reason why slow-wave sleep is so important is that it allows for proper restoration and regeneration.
Rest is when the essential bodily repair is done.
During deep sleep, necessary hormones are released and regulated, your tissues are repaired, muscles are developed, and memories throughout the day are solidified in the brain.
It is also when the immune system has time to restore itself; this means decreasing inflammation and allowing for time for the body to protect itself. This is why
Sleep is vital for increasing both our motor skills and ability to learn new activities efficiently, which is essential for living a happier, healthier life. There is a sleep study on athletes that showed a strong correlation or link between getting more restful sleep and significantly improved athletic performance. These athletes also demonstrated a boost in their mood and a decrease in tiredness, during practices and games following a good night’s sleep.
Additionally, sleep deprivation has been shown to rob the brain of its ability to reorganize and recharge. Research has shown that high sleep quality is essential for clearing out the brain of toxic byproducts and which is so essential for healthy functioning.
Mental and Psychological Benefits of Deep Sleep
Besides helping your body rest physically, the quality of your sleep also has a positive effect on the management of difficult emotions and preventing mental health problems. This is because the dream stage of sleep helps removes the sharp edges from the prior day’s emotional experiences. This could be since many studies have shown REM sleep to be critical for suppressing our stress response. This means that we can use our dreams and good sleep to process emotional experiences too tricky to handle in our daily lives.
Additionally, REM sleep has been shown to affect how the brain responds to negative emotions, such as fear and stress. In a study, patients who were seen to have higher levels of REM sleep were found also found to have higher resilience to fear during the day. With these findings, we can conclude that the amount of REM sleep can indicate a person’s resiliency to traumatic events, as well as their susceptibility to the prevention of developing PTSD.
Deep Sleep and Memory Recall
As we have established, REM and NREM sleep are both vital for the brain; however, the third and fourth stages of NREM are especially crucial for long-term memory recall. Older adults who experience less stage three sleep were shown to have higher levels of a toxic brain protein linked to cognitive decline, brain damage, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
With poor sleep being referred to as the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. People with Alzheimer’s tend to wake up tired, and their sleep becomes even less refreshing while memory loss and other symptoms worsen.
Additionally, REM sleep has also been shown to play a role in preventing Dementia. In a recent study, researchers showed that people who developed Dementia spent only 17% of their sleep in REM. In contrast, people who consumed 20% of their time in the rapid eye movement stage didn’t develop Dementia. So as you can see, not getting proper sleep doesn’t just make you forgetful for a day — it can detrimentally affect your memory and health for life.
So, How Much Deep Sleep Do I Need?
It’s clear that sleep is essential for memory and cognitive functioning, and both require REM and deep sleep. But that still doesn’t tell us how much sleep do you need for a healthy brain and body? Of course, the amount of deep sleep a person needs depends on certain factors such as activity level and age. However, a good rule of thumb for most people is 7-9 hours of sleep. This provides time to experience deep sleep and its vital benefits.
How You Can Increase Deep Sleep
As I’ve talked about before in my article on a proper sleep schedule is crucial for getting better sleep. By maintaining healthy control of your circadian rhythms, you can help keep restorative sleep and wakefulness at appropriate times.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, your body’s biological clock is based on a roughly 24-hour day, and this is what we call your circadian rhythms. This cycle synchronizes with environmental cues such as the amount of light and the time of day.
Your circadian clock is responsible for a range of your body’s functions, such as temperature, metabolism, and growth hormones. It is essential to keep these cycles in balance to ensure that you’re healthier for both periods of sleep and while you’re awake during the day. A great way to regulate your circadian rhythms is to make sure to keep bright lights out of the bedroom, especially at night. This is especially true for electronics that emit blue light such as phones, tablets, and computers; this is because the brain often confuses this light for daylight.
As I discussed before, the right sleep environment is essential to support going to sleep quickly. Additionally, healthy sleep habits, like sleeping and waking at the same time every day will help you to establish a sleep routine and adjust your circadian rhythm to a regular schedule. Something I recommend to people who suffer from is insomnia is to create a space that supports a mindfulness routine. For example, reading a book, taking a walk, and avoiding stimulating technologies and lights can help you wind down for a deeper, more restful sleep.
Get More Deep Sleep for a Better Life
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for keeping the body’s most critical regulatory processes in check. From boosting memory recall to improving stress responses, deep sleep plays a role in both current and future well-being. Make sure you make good sleep as easy as possible and consider investing in a high-quality mattress and pillow.
About Dr Sinead Moore
My goal is to create 100% natural mattresses and pillows with extraordinary comfort.
I believe everyone deserves to sleep in a healthy and non-toxic enviroment so they can feel .
Discover your first good night’s sleep.