There are several stages of sleep we fall under when trying to get our eight hours of shut-eye each night, but how much of it is deep sleep? Deep sleep can be described at the stage during sleep when rapid eye movement ceases completely. This stage is associated with the least amount of brain activity where your body is getting the most rest. During this time, the neurons in your brain are completely at rest and silent in movement.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
We need to find out how to get more deep sleep for a variety of reasons. First off, deep sleeps help us to process new memories from the day into our brain. This is why individuals with insomnia or bad sleep habits have a hard time recalling things. Your memory won’t work properly if you don’t get deep sleep every night. Deep sleep also helps us with our long-term, declarative memory. When you have a more deep sleep, you have a significantly higher chance of recalling things from your declarative memory.
The primary function of deep sleep is to give the brain enough time to recover from the events of the day. Another function of deep sleep is growth in the body. Especially in young children, deep sleep releases growth hormone, which helps you to grow as normal.
Sleep isn’t just a means to give your body some time to shut down; however, it provides so many benefits to you as well. Getting a good amount of sleep will affect the quality of your morning, increase productivity, promote healthy emotional balance, support brain and heart functions, boost your immune system, and promote energy and creativity. Skimping on sleep means a less happy, less healthy version of you.
How Much Sleep Do You Need Each Night?
The average person needs about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Children and teens, who still have some growing to do before becoming full adults, need even more than that. Many people think that the need for sleep decreases with age, but this is not true. Even older adults need to ensure they’re getting at least 7 hours each night.
There’s a big difference between the amount of sleep you need just to function throughout the day and the amount of sleep you need to thrive. Just because you regularly operate on five or six hours of sleep, doesn’t mean your body is getting the amount it needs. If you regularly get less than 7-9 hours of sleep, your body is experiencing sleep deprivation, and you’re not as alert, creative, or healthy as you could be.
If you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, feel the need for naps throughout the day, get sleepy during work meetings, or can’t wait to sleep in on the weekends, you’re probably sleep deprived and should try getting a few more hours of sleep each night.
How to Get More Deep Sleep
1. Power Down Your Devices
With the increased use of technology in all of our lives, it’s hard to fight the urge to use our phones immediately before bed or watching a show while falling asleep. While these things might seem harmless, using technology before bed actually emits blue light that keeps our mind awake even after we stop using the device.
The best advice for using technology before bed is to finish your activities about 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. This will help your brain and body to adjust to your environment without the phone’s blue light.
For those who have issues letting go of technology before bed, there are some things you can try. You can try a Wi-Fi blocker that will come on at a certain time, which will decrease the amount of browsing you can do. You can also listen to a podcast, particularly one that doesn’t stimulate too much deep thought. The last resort is to download applications that change the brightness of your phone, so it matches a dark room more closely and causes less strain on your eyes.
2. Stick to a Regular Bedtime
Our bodies are incredible at adjusting. That being said, we must give them some sort of schedule to adjust to if we want our sleep schedule to promote deeper sleep. Although it’s hard to say no to staying up late and sleeping in later on the weekends, this messes with our body’s routine.
If you want to get a deeper sleep, you’ll need to set a regular bedtime for yourself and stick to it. If you stay up late every Friday and Saturday then try to get to bed at a decent time on Sunday, your body will struggle. Getting into a steady sleeping rhythm will allow you to fall asleep faster on the weeknights when you need it.
3. Get Your Room at the Right Temperature
Everyone has different preferences on whether they fall asleep better in a warm or cold room. Some like the window open, some prefer the fan. Most of us find that we wake up feeling too hot or too cold during the night. Temperature is a huge factor when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Experiment with some different temperatures to see which one allows you to get the best night's sleep.
Studies have shown that most people sleep best when the room is around 67-degree Fahrenheit. This might not be the case for you, but it’s worth giving a shot to see if your sleep improves.
4. Don't Each Much Close to Bedtime
Eating a large meal before bed can keep you awake more than you realize. It’s true that often after eating a large meal we start to feel tired, but don’t confuse this feeling of fatigue with sleepiness; it’s actually sluggishness setting in. If you eat right before you go to bed, your body will spend time digesting when it’s supposed to be resting.
It’s extremely difficult for your body to get into a deep sleep if processing food is in the way. When you’re in a deep sleep, your body is supposed to be completely shut down. Digesting prohibits you from fully entering deep sleep as soon as you could have, which may make you feel even more tired in the morning.
5. Take Time to De-stress
Talking some time to de-stress and unwind before you go to bed can have a huge effect on your sleep quality. When you worry too much about the day in front of you or problems you are currently having, your brain starts working overtime. With your mind running faster and faster, it makes it difficult to calm down when you finally want to go to sleep. A clear mind is the easiest way to fall asleep.
To make this happen, take some time to meditate a couple of minutes before bed. Whenever you have a stressful thought in your head, try your best to silence it. De-stressing before bed also means not checking your email or text messages before bed. Make sure any conversations you’re having are taken care of at least half an hour before you want to close your eyes to fall asleep.
6. Exercise Regularly
There’s a lot of research that shows exercise can boost your sleep quality in several ways. First off, exercising regularly gives you more sound and restful sleep. The time spent doing physical activity tires your body and gets you ready for a night of restorative sleep. Exercising also helps improve the duration of your slumber. Being more physically active makes your body feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day.
Exercising has also shown decreased stress and anxiety levels in individuals. Because stress is such a common factor in sleep problems, any way of reducing stress will help solve your sleep problems and get you more hours of deep sleep each night.
7. Darken Your Room
Even the smallest bit of light coming in can affect your sleep patterns. If you tend to sleep with a light in the room or the bathroom light on, consider turning it off. Think about the lights around your room that you probably don’t realize are distracting your sleep. Often chargers and televisions have small blue or red lights that indicate if the device is on or off and create sources of light in a dark room. To mitigate this, cover the lights with duct tape so they can no longer shine through.
These lights can throw off your body’s internal clock and make you think it’s daytime. Taking away these lights will significantly help the amount of deep sleep your body is getting each night.
8. Ditch the Caffeine
Some of us need an upper in the morning to keep us awake throughout the day. While caffeine is a part of many of our daily routines, it’s terrible for getting a deep sleep later in the day. If you must drink caffeine, try to have your last cup by 3 pm. It’s a better idea to ditch the caffeine all together as it can linger in your system for quite some time depending on how fast your metabolism is.
Studies have shown that even caffeine consumed six hours before bedtime still reduced the number of sleep people got by an average of one hour a night. That one hour can be the difference between a groggy, tiring day and a vivacious, lovely day.
9. Use White Noise
While you’re sleeping, your brain continues to process sounds going on around you. Although you may not remember being disturbed by certain noises in the morning, your brain isn’t able to get as good of sleep quality with background noises. Even the sounds of your own tossing and turning can keep your mind alert. The use of white noise helps to eliminate some of this background noise and keeps your mind away from distractions.
People who sleep with a partner or in a shared room may especially want to consider the use of white noise when sleeping. You’ll find you wake up less, feel more alert, and fall asleep faster.
Getting a better night sleep is amazing for you in so many ways. You’ll see an increase in your mood, your energy, your health, and your productivity. It can be difficult to adjust to a new sleep schedule and commit yourself to getting better sleep, but if you follow our top tips for how to get more deep sleep, you will undoubtedly thank yourself and notice a difference in your days.