Are you getting enough deep sleep? Considering 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep and 3 out of 3 Americans read this blog, we’d say there’s a good chance you might be one of them. Fear not, we’re here to tell you how you can get more deep sleep.
Below we talk through the different stages of sleep and the benefits of getting enough deep sleep. Keep reading to learn more about how vital this stage of sleep is. (Spoiler alert, it’s important.)
Before we get into the science of what and why, let’s look at how you get deep sleep.
How to get deep sleep
- Allow yourself adequate sleeping time
Although this might sound like common sense, it’s important to schedule adequate time to hit the hay. If you have to be up at the crack of dawn everyday it’s wise not to spend the whole night playing Excite Bike (or whatever video games the kids are playing these days), only giving yourself a few hours of sleep.
It’s advised that adults have between six and nine hours sleep each night to allow the body to process the full sleep cycle (explained below) and reap the rewards of a full regenerative sleep.
- Work out daily
Love it or hate it, the vast benefits of regular physical activity can’t be denied. As well as the obvious weight loss you can also see benefits such as boosted self-esteem, improved mood and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. What’s more, daily exercise has been proven to achieve a better quality of sleep in most people.
It’s recommended to work out earlier in the day as opposed to just before bedtime. Strenuous activity before bedtime can stimulate your nervous system and raise your heart rate too much, making it difficult to fall asleep.
If you hate the thought of physical activity, believe us you are not alone. But, with so many types of exercise available you don’t have to do a killer HIIT workout to see positive changes to your sleeping pattern. Try jogging, running, swimming, cycling or anything to get your heart rate going. *wink wink* (sex)
- Put your phone down
Mobile phones hurt sleep. There, we said it. Although the light from your phone appears white it is referred to as ‘blue light’. This light messes with your body’s ability to prepare for sleep because it blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy.
It’s not just your phone that emits blue light, you're also exposed to it from televisions, tablets, fluorescent light bulbs, LED bulbs, computer monitors, Times Square, and video games. So, when we say put your phone down, we really mean put all electronic devices that produce blue light down. And you should do so two to three hours before bedtime.
Everyone should evaluate their diet from time to time to ensure you are giving your body the nourishment it needs and deserves. If you’re wanting to get more deep sleep, there are a few minor changes you can make to your diet which may make a big difference to your sleep.
A study found that fiber in particular has been known to improve your sleep. Consider increasing your fiber intake to take advantage of the many benefits this plant-derived food has to offer.
Unlike strenuous physical exercise, yoga can be practiced immediately before bedtime. However, similarly to more energetic activity, yoga can improve your sleep.
Yoga encourages mindfulness, a judgement free awareness in the moment. Mindfulness can increase melatonin levels which, as mentioned above, makes you sleepy.
Yogis also practice deep breathing which can be used as a relaxation technique to induce sleep.
Though deemed less intensive than a HIIT workout, yoga can be an excellent way to lose weight. While weight loss may not be your primary goal, losing excessive weight can have positive effects on your sleep.
Think yoga is nothing but just breathing and stretching? Give it a go and we promise you’ll have a newfound respect for it.
- Avoid caffeine
Perhaps an obvious one, but studies show that you should stop consuming any caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. A telling sign of whether you’re drinking too much caffeine could be headaches, anxiety and of course, poor sleep.
- Relaxing bedtime routine
Set yourself up for a peaceful night’s sleep with a relaxing bedtime routine. A clean, tidy and cosy bedroom can help you fall into your sleep cycle quicker.
Remove yourself from all gadgets that emit blue light. Close your curtains and blinds and dimly light your room with a warm lamp or diffuser light, nothing too bright.
Essential oils can also promote relaxation and sleepiness so find which scents work best for you.
- A cool bedroom
There are many benefits to sleeping in a cooler environment. We’ve surely all been too hot and bothered to fall asleep at some point. Studies show that sleeping in a cooler room helps you to fall asleep faster.
Regulating your body temperature allows your body to cycle through the critical sleep stages naturally. If you are a hot sleeper, our Eucalyptus bed sheets are made for you. Thank us later...like, when you wake up.
- White and pink noise
Similar to the soothing hum of a whirring fan or an air conditioning unit, white or pink noise can have a calming effect causing sleepiness. Humans have different tolerances to noise, and some find that pink noise is more pleasant on the ears, compared to white noise.
The idea behind the effects of white or pink noise and sleep is that it reduces the difference between background noise and a loud jarring noise that may jolt you awake, such as a car alarm, your morning alarm, someone snoring or a door slamming.
- Block out light
Finally, reduce any unwanted light from waking you from your much needed sleep. Light is a natural sense that tells the body it is time to wake up. Therefore, if you leave your blinds open when the sun rises at 5am, it’s likely to wake you from your sleep cycle.
Black out blinds are a great way to block out all light from your bedroom windows. Or a cheaper alternative would be to wear an eye mask to bed. A more expensive alternative would be to rotate your house 90 degrees.
The 4 stages of sleep
- Lightest Sleep
The first stage of the sleep cycle starts with stage 1 of NREM (non-rapid eye movement). This is the transition period between being awake and drifting off to sleep. This stage of sleep usually lasts around five to ten minutes.
- Light Sleep
Stage 2 NREM sleep sees the body temperature drop and the heart rate begin to slow. This process causes bursts of brain activity, known as sleep spindles, which can cause us to twitch. Next time your partner starts their hilarious twitching spasms as they nod off, you’ll now know that they’re experiences sleep spindles! This sleep stage lasts approximately twenty minutes.
- Deep Sleep
The third stage of sleep still falls under NREM but is where your muscles relax, your blood pressure and breathing rate drops and the deepest sleep occurs. It is during this stage where your body begins to restore itself, allowing for recovery and growth. It is often most difficult to wake someone when they are in this deep sleep stage. A good amount of stage 3 deep sleep is critical for feeling the most refreshed and awake in the morning.
- REM Deep Sleep
Stage 4 of sleep shows an incredible level of brain activity. The REM (rapid eye movement) is caused by a light up of brain activity, faster and more irregular breathing, and dreaming. During this part of the sleep cycle your body is temporarily paralyzed which stops you from acting out your dreams.
These four stages are known as a sleep cycle because once your REM sleep is over, your body usually returns to NREM stage 2 and begins the cycle all over again.
Why is deep sleep so important
As touched on above, deep sleep is a restorative process. It allows growth and development of the body, cell regeneration, hormone regulation and increases blood supply to the muscles. As well as improvement to your immune system, deep sleep also provides growth and repair of tissue. It also improves short and long-term memory and the overall ability to learn.
We think deep sleep is pretty important. Are we brave for saying that? Probably. If you’re struggling to sleep, we feel your pain. Try checking out these gadgets to help you sleep, podcasts to help you sleep or these cooling eucalyptus bed sheets.