We go through three cycles when we’re sleeping: light sleep, REM sleep, and deep sleep. Deep sleep is the point at which our bodies and brains get the restoration they need to remain healthy and functional, meaning you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. So, what can you do to make sure you’re receiving an adequate amount of deep sleep per night?
The key to having a healthy sleep cycle is ensuring that your sleep hygiene is on point, and by this, I don’t mean making sure you wash your face before you go to bed. Having healthy sleep hygiene simply means ensuring you have a good night’s sleep by fixing your sleep schedule. There are many ways you can do this, which is what I am going to be discussing in this guide on how to increase deep sleep naturally.
There are many things you can do to make your sleep restorative and balanced with some simple changes of habit, such as increasing exercise throughout the day, staying hydrated, and avoiding stimulants. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what you can do to increase deep sleep.
Stages of Sleep
As I just mentioned, there are three stages that you go through during a night’s sleep, so before we talk about how you can improve your deep sleep, you must understand what each sleep stage is.
Stage One – Light Sleep
Light sleep is the first stage you go through as you’re drifting off, and during the early stages of your slumber, your breathing begins to slow down, and your eye movements stop.
Your body temperature will also drop during light sleep, and you might experience muscle spasms, or sudden jerks, which some people describe as a feeling of suddenly falling.
Stage Two – Deep Sleep
During stage two, deep sleep, your brain begins to relax, and this is the stage where you’re least likely to be woken up. During this stage, your body, brain, and muscle tissues repair themselves. It’s a vital stage of sleep used to improve your growth, immune system, and brain function.
Stage Three – REM Sleep
The final stage of sleep is called REM, or rapid eye movement. This is usually the stage where you’ll experience dreams. It’s the deepest stage of sleep. However, it’s also the stage where your heart rate may increase, blood pressure rises, and eye movement occurs.
Why is Deep Sleep so Important?
Deep sleep is what is known as restorative sleep, and it’s vital to our general health and normal functioning. This is because, during this stage of sleep, your body and muscles repair themselves from the activities of the day. If you have the recommended amount of restorative sleep, you should find you wake up in the morning feeling revitalized and well-rested.
People who might struggle with getting the correct amount of deep sleep. It is the case for those who suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia or are woken up multiple times a night. The reasons for sleep disorders are a snoring partner, noisy neighbors, or a weak bladder.
A lack of deep, restorative sleep can lead to ongoing complications such as depression, weight gain, mood swings, and lack of focus, which can negatively impact your day-to-day life in terms of work and relationships.
How Much Deep Sleep do You Need?
The amount of deep sleep you need in hours typically depends on your age. For example, babies and toddlers benefit from more deep sleep than adults. Below is an estimate of how much deep sleep the average person requires to feel rejuvenated.
|Newborn – 3 Years Old||2.4 – 3 hours|
|1 – 3 Years Old||2.4 – 2.8 hours|
|3 – 5 Years Old||2.2 – 2.6 hours|
|5 – 12 Years Old||2 – 2.2 hours|
|12 – 18 Years Old||1.7 – 2 hours|
|18+ Years Old||1.5 – 1.8 hours|
How to Increase Deep Sleep Naturally?
If you’re unsure whether you’re getting the sufficient amount of deep sleep required, there are devices such as smartwatches that can monitor your sleep quality throughout the night and give you a nightly report which can calculate how long you’re in each sleep stage.
If you think your deep sleep time is below average, here are several ways to increase your deep sleep naturally.
1. Avoid Stimulants
Stimulants such as caffeine will impact how fast you fall asleep and how well you sleep in general. For example, drinking caffeine late in the day is likely to cause difficulty staying asleep. Also, this doesn’t just apply to drinking coffee. Caffeine is also present in some pain-relieving medications, so check the label and avoid taking such medicines late in the day.
Alcohol is also a massive downfall for some people regarding sleep. Although reaching for a tipple before can seem tempting and help with initial drift off, it’s likely to cause you to wake up multiple times a night, disrupting sleep and skipping out vital stages of sleep.
2. Rethink Your Diet
Believe it or not, what you eat plays quite a significant part in your sleep hygiene. For example, studies show that people with a higher fiber intake experience better sleep.
Exercising is highly beneficial for a good night’s slumber. Research has shown that people who exercise for around 150 minutes per week experience a better night’s sleep than those who are mainly sedentary.
Exercise doesn’t include hardcore cardio sessions five times a week. It can be light exercises such as yoga, recommended for those who exercise in the evening because it also calms the mind and relaxes the body. Combining yoga with meditation can also drastically improve your sleep. Check out my guide on how to meditate in bed if this is something you’re keen to learn more about.
4. Sleep Schedule
A consistent sleep schedule is one of the best things you can do to ensure you get all the necessary sleep stages to wake up feeling refreshed. It can also improve how fast you fall asleep and lessen your chances of being awake through the night.
Your sleep schedule needs to be personal to you, but you should ensure that you stick to it every night of the week. Disrupting your routine at the weekend can have an effect on your sleep for the days following.
Start to wind down and prepare for bed around an hour before you plan to get into bed, and do something that your brain will start to associate with getting ready for sleep. This can include listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a warm bath, or going through a skincare routine. A consistent pattern can also help with other disorders, such as stress and anxiety.
5. Sleep Environment
When getting into bed at night, ensuring that your sleeping environment is as peaceful and tranquil as possible will help massively to how well you fall asleep. This includes ensuring the room is at an ample temperature, not too hot, and cool enough that you’re not cold. All the lights should be dimmed or switched off altogether. Your bed should be comfortable with good quality bed linen and a comfortable pillow and mattress.
6. Sleep Aids
If you live near a busy road or brightly lit area or sleep with a snoring spouse, being woken up by noise or light can affect how much deep sleep you get. If these aspects are unavoidable, rest aids such as earbuds and sleeping masks can help to give you a full night’s sleep.
7. Listen to Calming Music or Sounds
Listening to calming sounds before you fall asleep can help to ease the mind and soothe the soul, taking your mind off the stresses of life. While some people find listening to relaxing music beneficial, other sounds, like white noise, are also proven to help people drift off soundly into slumber. Check out this guide for some of the most relaxing sounds to listen to for a good night’s sleep.
A Final Analysis
Deep sleep is beneficial for many reasons, including cognitive function, muscle restoration, and general mood. Therefore ensuring you’re getting enough of it is vital.
If you’re unsure whether or not you’re getting the right amount of deep sleep, try investing in a smartwatch such as a Fitbit, or another fitness tracker, which will record your nightly sleeping patterns.
If a lack of sleep is starting to impact your health, and you believe you’ve tried all the remedies in the book, be sure to speak with a health professional to rule out any underlying disorders. In some cases, this can be a sign of something more sinister. However, this is not a common cause for concern.