Did you know that nearly 50 percent of Americans say they have daytime sleepiness, while 32 percent report sleeping insufficient hours every night?
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you’re not alone.
But there are some things you can do to help yourself get a better night’s sleep.
In this article, you will find out why deep sleep is so important and how to increase deep sleep. We will also answer some common questions.
What is deep sleep?
Deep sleep is the stage of sleep when you’re harder to wake up.
The deepest sleep phase comes just before REM sleep starts. It happens in stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep. REM comes right after that.
During stage 1, your brain waves and body functions (heart rate, breathing) begin to slow. It’s a preparation to sleep deeply.
Stage 2 is usually the longest sleep phase when your core temperature drops and the brain waves reach their lower levels. Right after that, you start deep sleep.
In this stage, your brain waves are very slow, and we call those delta waves. That’s why deep sleep is also known as delta sleep or slow wave sleep.
How many hours of deep sleep do you need?
Depending on your sleep habits, health, and age, you may need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
- If you’re a teen, the recommended total sleeping time is 8 to 10 hours. Based on this recommendation, you should get 96 to 120 minutes of deep sleep.
- If you are over 18 years, 7-9 hours are recommended for you. Then you need 84 to 108 minutes of deep sleep.
- In the case of older adults, they require 7-8 hours of night sleep. That translates into 84 to 96 minutes of deep sleep.
The recommendations above are based on the National Sleep Foundation guidelines and are not the same for everybody.
Your recommended amount of sleep depends on how tired you are, your daily activities, your current health, and whether you are recovering from trauma or another problem.
How do you know how much deep sleep you’re getting?
The calculations above used 20% as an average proportion of deep sleep. You can use that number or choose one between 13 and 23%.
Now follow these steps to know how much sleep you’re getting:
- Take notes of the time you go to sleep and when you wake up. It doesn’t have to be precise to the minute.
- Pick a number between 13 and 23%. Use a higher number if you are very tired or going through an acute disease.
- Calculate the percentage of deep sleep based on this number.
What are the benefits of deep sleep?
If you’re not getting enough deep sleep, you may notice that you’re groggy during the day and have trouble concentrating. You may also find yourself catching colds more often.
That’s because deep sleep has benefits for a myriad of body functions:
- It helps with glucose metabolism regulation. Athletes need deep sleep to restore the energy stores in their muscles.
- Deep sleep sharpens your memory and cognitive function. It plays a role in brain development and learning.
- It provides a proper rest to your brain, which creates new neuron connections throughout the day. Not having enough deep sleep would saturate your memory pathways.
- Deep sleep helps your body adapt to the environment, especially when something new or challenging is happening.
What causes a lack of deep sleep?
Who is more likely to get insufficient deep sleep? Here is a list of potential causes that may trigger problems in this critical phase:
- Sleep deprivation: Naturally, if you don’t get enough sleep time, deep sleep is also affected. Thus, it is essential to get your daily recommended amount of sleep.
- Fragmented sleep: Sleep phases go one after another, and the cycle repeats four to six times every night. Interrupting your sleep frequently reduces the proportion of deep sleep you get every night.
- Anxiety and a high-stress level: Anxious thoughts make it difficult to fall asleep. They reduce the quality of your sleep on many levels. Your delta sleep is one of the phases affected when you’re anxious or stressed.
- Aging and chronic disease: Studies also show that older adults reduce their proportion of deep sleep. This is more common in chronic diseases, especially Alzheimer’s.
- Schizophrenia: Another cause of lack of deep sleep is schizophrenia, especially when it is poorly controlled.
10 natural tips to get more deep sleep
How do I get more deep sleep? Here are some tips you can try to induce deep sleep:
1) Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible
This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. You’ll get more deep sleep when your organism figures out your sleeping routine.
2) Create a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you wind down before sleep
This could involve reading, taking a bath, or writing in a journal. Everything that helps soothe your mind and body may improve sleep quality and deep sleep duration. As sleep duration increases, the delta phase increases.
3) Change your body temperature
You have probably noticed how your temperature drops when you go to sleep. Heating your body before bedtime with a warm bath and keeping the room temperature comfortably low will create an environment to sleep more comfortably. The body will translate the temperature drop as a sign that it is time to sleep.
4) Create a sleep-friendly environment in your bedroom
For a deeper sleep, make sure it is dark, quiet, and cool. Buying a comfortable mattress and soft pillows can be an excellent way to invest in your health.
You may not be able to control everything around you, but do your best to build the mood.
5) Be careful of what you eat around bedtime
Your diet matters if you want to get more deep sleep. Studies show that it also impacts slow-wave sleep directly.
People eating lots of saturated fats in their diet are more likely to have less delta sleep.
Try to eat a few hours before bedtime and make sure that your dinner is not made of fatty foods.
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6) Avoid caffeine and be careful around alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant of the nervous system and keeps you awake. Try to avoid coffee and other sources of caffeine at night, such as cola drinks and sports drinks.
On the other hand, alcohol is a nervous system depressor. One glass of wine could help you relax every once in a while.
But combining alcohol with stress makes you feel even more anxious. It also changes your sleep stages and sleep quality.
7) Try to sleep with binaural beats
Binaural beats are similar sounds in your ears with a slight difference in tone. Each tone is played differently in each ear, triggering an effect in the brain.
This field is still under research, but some authors suggest that these sounds induce delta waves in the brain. They can be an option to enter stage 3 sleep, and you can try them without fearing side effects.
8) Avoid blue lights at night
Blue lights tell your brain that it is still daytime and you need to get moving. The body reduces melatonin production, and your circadian rhythm gets affected.
Thus, you should reduce screen time one hour before bedtime. It would be even better if you could turn off or silence your phone to avoid receiving notifications.
9) Avoid long naps in the afternoon
Afternoon naps are not bad practice as long as they do not exceed 30 minutes. Longer naps delay night sleep and desynchronize your body clock.
The result would be similar to fragmented sleep, and the most commonly affected sleep phases are delta sleep and REM sleep.
10) Try a few natural supplements
There are plenty of natural remedies to sleep. The most commonly known are soothing herbs and infusions.
There is also a natural hormone called melatonin. This is an important hormone released by the time you go to sleep.
If your body is suffering from jet lag or has gone out of sync, melatonin supplements could help. You could also wind down with aromatherapy, a relaxing massage, and other natural techniques.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to getting more deep, restful sleep every night!
But what if you don’t see any advances? Talk to your doctor if you follow these recommendations and still are not getting enough deep sleep. Maybe there’s another obstacle that will only respond to medical treatment.
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Deep sleeping can make a difference in your immunity, metabolism, and brain function. This article has taught us what it is and how to get more deep sleep (delta sleep).
Some recommendations to get deeper sleep every night is to eat a light meal at night, prepare the environment to promote sleep, and avoid blue lights from TV screens and your mobile. You can also try natural remedies such as soothing infusions and binaural beats.
Sometimes controlling everything in your environment is not quite easy to do. Thus, sometimes we need to combine the methods described in the article with mindfulness and meditation to calm down the mind and relax the body.