When was the last time you caught 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep? Do you often catch yourself rolling out of bed tired, bleary eyed and in need of coffee? While the total time you spend asleep is important, quantity isn’t a determining factor when it comes to quality - particularly when it comes to deep sleep. But what is deep sleep, why do you need it and how can you get more of it, if this state is truly the answer to your hard mornings? We’ll step you through the basics of this stage of your sleep cycle, with some general hints on how to get deep sleep, carefully curated from the most trustworthy corners of the internet.
Whether you’re a night owl or an early riser, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about this stage of your sleep cycle, with helpful tips on how to get a deep sleep.
The deep sleep cycle is one of the four stages of sleep (along with light, REM and waking). Your brain waves slow down, your muscles relax and your heart rate decelerates, giving your mind and body the opportunity to repair itself. People need deep sleep to rebuild muscles, boost their immune system, promote brain health and navigate stressful situations - that’s right, you can get ahead of life’s little surprises even when you’re asleep.
Are you difficult to rouse from hard earned rest? You may be getting more deep sleep than those around you, as even loud noises or sudden changes can fail to wake a deep sleeper. Should your friends, family, neighbours or next door’s dog succeed, you will most likely feel groggy and disoriented for the first few minutes, as your body slowly switches itself on again.
REM follows deep sleep and is considered to be the deepest stage of sleep. Unlike deep sleep, your brain is very active during REM. Your heart rate is fast and irregular as you experience vivid dreams and your short term memories are sorted and converted to long-term memories.
Sleep cycles will vary from person to person, but deep sleep should generally make up between 13% to 23% of your total sleep time, or one to two hours a night (for healthy adults). Keep in mind you won’t fall straight into deep sleep the moment your brain succeeds in quietening down, instead, you’ll cycle through deep sleep between three to five times between snooze and wake times.
It’s difficult to gauge how much deep sleep you’re getting just going off how you feel. If you’re curious about your sleep health, you can do a little DIY investigation with a wearable device to track your REM, deep sleep and light sleep cycles. Should you experience acute or prolonged sleep issues, speak to your doctor.
The first cycle will generally last between 40 - 90 mins, with your cycles only becoming shorter throughout the night.
Factors that disrupt you throughout the night, can directly impact your deep sleep. This includes things like taking naps throughout the day, sleep disorders like sleep apnea, disruptions in your sleep like noise or sound as well as certain substances like caffeine or medications.
Poor sleep can take a toll on your physical and mental health. A lack of deep sleep will leave you feeling drowsy and fatigued throughout the day. Since deep sleep is where your brain works to store new memories, a lack of deep sleep may result in difficulty remembering and retaining new information. When it comes to your active self, you may find your energy levels failing to keep up with your expectations, and your muscle recovery taking longer, a reduced immune system and an impact on your concentration; making study and work more difficult.
Are you ready for some good news? Your body will naturally prioritise deep sleeping. If you don't get the proper amount one night, your body will try its best to make it up the following night.
The best way to set yourself up for more deep sleep is making sure you get six to eight hours a night. That gives your body the time it needs to go through multiple sleep cycles, increasing your chance of slipping into deep sleep. This isn’t the only way to encourage deep sleep.
Another thing to consider is your overall sleep patterns. Certain habits can help improve your overall sleep such as:
Deep sleep is a vital part of your sleep cycle, and while it’s difficult to control exactly how much deep sleep you get, you can help set yourself up for a healthier sleep cycle. Starting with a comfortable bed! Make deep sleep a little easier to achieve with Snooze.