When you go to sleep, the brain undergoes four stages of sleep that are categorized into two main phases namely the Non-REM sleep and REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. The Non-Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM) phase is the first to occur and comprises 3 stages. The third stage of Non-REM is called deep sleep.
The first stage under Non-REM sleep is made of light sleeping for about 5-10 minutes. Stage 2 lasts about 10-25 minutes, is also light but includes periods of partial muscle contraction and relaxation, the eye movement stops, there is a reduction in body temperature, and a slow down in the heart rate as well as brain waves.
What Is Deep Sleep and Why Is It Important?
As indicated in the introduction, stage 3 of the Non-REM sleep phase is what is referred to as deep sleep. During deep sleep, there is no muscle activity or eye movement and the brain produces very slow brain waves. It is during this stage that the body’s tissues are repaired, bones and muscles are built and the immune system is strengthened. Deep sleep time reduces with age.
The very final phase of sleeping is the REM sleep or Rapid Eye Movement phase. There is an increase in brain activity, though muscles such as arms and legs cannot move. Since the activity levels are high during the REM stage, this is where most dreams are likely to happen. The intensity of REM sleep is highest during childhood and starts to decline with age.
The body goes through the above cycles a couple of times during the entire bedtime and combined they make up what we know as sleep.
Why Is It Important to increase deep sleep: 15 Helpful Tips and advantages
As you might have noticed by now, deep sleep is a very important stage of sleep that plays a critical role in determining sleep quality and contributes to keeping the body healthy. Always ensure you are making effort to improve the level of your deep sleep every night. These 15 helpful tips on how to increase dep sleep will guide you comprehensively.
To help you work on your deep sleep and get it to good levels, make use of these tips.
1. Daily workouts
Getting that daily sweat through physical activity contributes to deep sleep besides other advantages such as regulating blood pressure and blood flow. You will realize that you tend to fall asleep faster on the days you exercise than on the days you don’t. Avoid vigorous exercise routines if your body is not built for them.
While exercise per day is highly encouraged, it is can be understandably difficult to get the time to work out each and every day. If you are the type that cannot manage daily workouts, try at least 15-200 minutes of work out per week. Use an alarm clock to remind yourself when it’s time for your workouts and schedule them in such a way that they are not so close to your bedtime as this gives the body ample time to recover and get ready for a cool night sleep.
2. Keep Off Caffeine
Caffeinated drinks such as coffee can be addictive and it is no secret that most people have this habit of taking a cup of coffee just before bed. Well, this can deny you deep sleep because caffeine is a stimulant that can keep sleep away.
If you must take the coffee then please do it much earlier in the day and avoid it 7-8 hours before bedtime. Instead of coffee, turn to decaffeinated drinks such as water, milk, etc.
3. Comfortable Bedroom Environment
Turn your bedroom into a friendly environment that automatically invites you to sleep the moment you step there and get ready to sleep. Even when your sleep patterns or sleep cycle changes, a good environment will ignite the body functions responsible for good sleep.
Avoid bright lights, noise, high temperatures, and strong lighting. Equally important is to rid your bedroom of electronic devices such as phones and computers/laptops as these can destruct you. Ensure your mattress, pillow, and blankets are comfortable to the body. If you are sleeping in a place where lights must be on then use an eye mask.
4. Warm Bath
Body temperature plays a role too. Peer-Reviewed studies have shown that a slight warming of the body will enhance the quality of sleep and helps you to fall asleep faster and increase deep sleep. Take a hot bath before bed at temperatures of about 35⁰ C ( 95 ⁰F) and end it at least 45 minutes before you go to bed.
A warm body sets the right tone and welcomes the deepest sleep stage, giving you the right start that you need to get into sleep as soon as it’s time for sleep. Ensure the bathing is soothingly warm and not too hot as this can cause sleep deprivation.
5. Listen to Select Audios
Research has shown that a bedtime schedule that includes sleep-enhancing audio recordings can actually slow brain activity and increase deep sleep. The recordings need to contain hypnotic suggestions and be specifically created to promote sleep.
You can find resources online for such recordings and select those that suit your mind. Remember to turn off the audio before getting into sleep or time your player to turn it off so that the sound doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
6. Reduce Screen Exposure Before Bedtime
In the current age of electronic devices and even wearable devices, it is normal to find yourself using your gadgets all the way to the moment you go to bed. If you can make a point of avoiding these gadgets in the hours before you go to sleep, then this is one of the great tips on how to increase deep sleep.
Too much exposure to the screen light, especially the blue lights, can lead to poor health conditions including disrupting the production and release of the melatonin hormone which helps the brain to regulate sleep. If you must engage your brain before sleeping, then try healthy habits like drawing or reading a book and avoid electronics as much as possible.
7. Maintain Regular Bedtime Routine
Establish a nightly routine where you engage in a cool activity before getting to bed, such as reading a book or reflecting. When you do the same thing each day before bed, your mind gets used to this activity and associates it with sleep.
A regular bedtime routine acts like sleep medicine without the side effects of real medicine. It is a natural way to induce your mind to rest and increase deep sleep. Keep the routine easy, not intense, and strict. You need not keep a timetable for this, it’s just something easy you do before going to bed.
8. Avoid Working Close to Bedtime
While it is understandable that the pressure of work can push you to carry on your work to the bedroom and continue working all the way until you fall asleep, try to minimize it for the sake of increasing deep sleep.
Stop working at least one to two hours before bed and utilize this time to prepare for sleep time and you will realize that it is an important lesson on how to increase deep sleep. Preparing for sleep instead of working will increase your deep sleep and give you good energy to help you work even better the following day.
9. Take Slow Evening Walks
An easy walk in the evening calms your mind and takes away the pressures of the day for a moment, setting the stage for deep sleep later in the night. It is important to distinguish between slow, calm walking and fast walking which can be categorized as a physical activity. What we are referring to here is the slow type of walk meant to relax your body and mind.
When walking, keep your mind free of the hard stuff and instead focus it on the easy stuff especially happening around you. Look at the buildings, admire nature, say hi to people when you can, and if you must think then think about the good stuff. At the end of the walking, your body and mind will be so relaxed that deep sleep starts to invite you.
10. Prepare For the Next Day
Get into the habit of preparing adequately for the next day, about 1 hour before you go to bed. This will clear your mind of thoughts about the tasks for the next day and get it ready to accommodate deep sleep.
To help you prepare for the next day, make a list of all the main tasks you need to accomplish tomorrow and spend a few minutes thinking about them to figure out the best way to get them done. This thinking process fulfills the urge to think about tomorrow and frees up the mind so that the only thing it has to handle once in bed is sleep.
11. Pink Noise
This type of noise is produced by a sound machine in different varieties and has been found to boost sleep, according to Northwestern Medicine researchers.
The other advantage of pink noise or white noise is that it helps in memory improvement in addition to increasing deep sleep. You can use a fan to reduce the background noise and this will give you the added benefit of clean air. Please don’t confuse this type of sound with loud noises because the latter will affect your sleep negatively.
12. Cooling Pillows
Pillows have a cool way of improving your sleeping environment in addition to providing a comfortable rest for your neck. Some types of cooling pillows help to absorb and dissipate heat from your body, leaving you to feel cool and fall fast asleep.
Additionally, pillows increase the airflow in your bed and take away the sweat as you sleep, allowing your body to get into long periods of deep sleep with no disruptions. A silk pillowcase is recommended as it can absorb moisture and dirt for better sleep.
13. Use Quality Mattress
A mattress is a very fundamental pillar in the science of sleep and good, comfortable mattresses will go a long way to increase deep sleep. Foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses are great and if you are looking for tips on how to increase deep sleep with mattresses then these are the ideal types to go for.
A mattress is as good as the materials used to make it. Firmer materials make the best mattresses around, not forgetting innovative materials that help to enhance the feel of the mattress. The bottom line is to go for mattresses that are made of proven quality materials and there are so many of them in the market.
Enhancements like mattress toppers and mattress protectors will go a long way in ensuring that your mattress provides the best environment for sleep.
14. Sleep More Hours
Yes, the number of hours you sleep per night can increase deep sleep. It is estimated that on average, an adult enjoys approximately two hours of deep sleep for every 8 hours of sleep. So if you are wondering how to increase deep sleep without doing much, then the easiest way is simply to increase the number of hours you sleep.
Experts recommend a minimum of 8 hours of sleep schedule per day to take your deep sleep to optimal levels. Keep this consistent and add more time when you can, especially during your off days, holidays, or school holidays if you are a student. Please consult a sleep specialist if you struggle to sleep well regardless of how many hours you stay in bed.
15. Eat Healthily
A great diet keeps the body healthy, protects it from problems like heart disease and overall defines the quality of life you live. Additionally, it has been established that a healthy diet contributes to a good night’s sleep which is a factor of increasing dep sleep.
High fiber intake increases the amount of time spent in the deep sleep stage. Add more fiber to your food and make this a consistent effort for your daily eating. Avoid eating close to bedtime as this tires the body because the food must be digested. When you eat close to bedtime, the body will spend some precious sleep time digesting the food first before you fall asleep.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading through these tips on how to increase deep sleep and enjoy quality sleep at night. Improving your deep sleep is a great way to eliminate sleep disorders and these tips can help you to cultivate good sleep habits.
Give your thoughts or more tips in the comments section and please take a second to share this article with your friends on social media to help them learn these valuable tricks on how to increase deep sleep.