The average human adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep every night. But not all sleep is made equal - there are different phases or ‘stages’ of your sleep, and for a truly restorative night, your body needs a good balance of each of them.
Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, with the daily stressors of modern life, a good night’s sleep has become increasingly difficult to accomplish.
According to Puffy’s Sleep Survey of 2020, 61% of Americans feel like they’re sleeping worse after the pandemic than ever before.
All stages of sleep play a significant role in rest and recovery, but deep sleep has a special responsibility to empower hormone growth and consolidate the process of memory and learning.
When you don’t get enough deep sleep, your body may react by showing dips in energy, trouble retaining information, and reduced immunity.
Simply put, deep sleep is the phase of NREM sleep that your body is most reliant on to wake up feeling refreshed and energized in the morning. In deep sleep, your brain waves slow down, and your heartbeat and breathing switches to their slowest rate of the night.
Deep sleep doesn’t come immediately after you fall asleep. It is also reliant on the successful completion of the other phases of sleep, which means if you find yourself repeatedly waking up during light sleep or REM sleep, you’re going to be unable to get the deeper, restorative sleep you deserve.
There are two distinct phases of sleep - REM and NREM sleep. When you first fall asleep, you are in non-REM sleep, or NREM sleep. This is followed by a brief period of REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep you most likely experience dreams in.
Deep sleep occurs in the final stage of NREM sleep, during which the body’s systems slow down, core temperature drops, and brain waves slow down with intermittent bursts of activity.
REM sleep comes around after the first 90 minutes of NREM sleep. This phase is characterized by rapid eye movements from side to side, an increased heart rate, as well as faster and irregular breathing patterns.
The amount of deep sleep you need tends to decrease with age - you spend about 13 to 23 percent of your NREM sleep catching up with this. A lack of deep sleep has been linked to various severe health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even diabetes.
If you struggle with sleep anxiety or any other kind of parasomnia, you may have experienced issues with sleepwalking, night terrors, or bed-wetting, all of which are common during the deep sleep phase of your rest.
While there may not be a set amount of sleep any person requires from deep sleep, it is said to be vital to the process of growth and development. This is why it’s especially important for young people to get a good night of sleep, one that has all the various stages of rest in it.
Figuring out how to get enough deep sleep really comes down to making sure you get enough hours of sleep every night. When you have the best mattress for a good night’s sleep, this becomes a lot easier.
If you’re convinced you’ve already found the best mattress for a good night’s sleep, then there are other sleep accessories that can make the transition easier. Add ons such as weighted blankets or memory foam pillows can also help with making your sleep cozier.
Looking after your sleep hygiene practices can make a significant impact on the quality and quantity of your rest. Not sure where to get started with your personal sleep hygiene? Here are some ideas:
One of the clearest indicators you’re getting the right amount of deep sleep is that you wake up feeling refreshed and energized. If you do want to get more meticulous with it, however, that’s possible too.
Modern sleep trackers are able to estimate when and for how long you stay in your different stages of sleep, allowing you to figure out if there’s a specific trigger for your tossing and turning, or if there’s something else you need to change in your nightly routine.
If you’re not really interested in wearing something that tracks your sleep, some apps available on your phone can also do the job for you. While these may not be 100% accurate, they’re a good estimation that allows you to plan around your sleep routine more generally.
Deep sleep is a critical component of the brain’s healthy functioning. Monitoring how much you get every night, and keeping on top of your sleep hygiene practices will ultimately help you achieve a better sense of balance and well-being in your day to day life.