Sleep is one of life’s most important processes. Without sleep, our body would not be able to maintain itself. It is as natural for us to sleep as it is for us to eat and drink -- our body craves it, and for good reason, too.
But what about getting good, deep sleep? Deep sleep is the type of sleep most beneficial for you and your body, and you might not be getting enough of it.
Want to know how important deep sleep is for you, and how you can get more of it? Here’s what to know about deep sleep for the body, and how you can try to get more of it in your life.
Everything To Know About Deep Sleep
What exactly is “deep sleep?” Well, for starters, it’s different from just “normal” sleep, and here’s how.
Deep sleep is your most quality sleep during the night -- and this is the most important aspect of sleep. If you want to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, getting deep sleep is how you can do that.
Understanding deep sleep means first understanding sleep. Let’s get a quick lesson in sleep, the different stages of it, and where deep sleep plays a role.
The Stages of Sleep
The processes of sleep fit into two separate categories: REM and non-REM sleep. Think of sleep as a cycle. The night starts in non-REM sleep, which is then followed by a brief period of REM sleep. The cycle then repeats, and you go through these stages multiple times throughout the night. Deep sleep happens in the final stages of non-REM sleep.
In the first stage of non-REM sleep, your body moves from being fully awake to falling asleep. During this stage, many things happen to your body:
- Heartbeat, eye movements, and breathing slows
- Muscles relax
- Brain waves slow down
Stage two of non-REM sleep occurs after and actually accounts for about 50 percent of the total sleep cycle. During this stage:
- Core body temperature drops
- Eye movements stop
- Brain waves are slowed, but you have some short bursts of activity
Stages three and four of non-REM is when deep sleep occurs. During these stages:
- Heartbeat, breathing, and brain waves are at their slowest as muscles relax
- Your body becomes increasingly difficult to awaken
Deep sleep is also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS) or delta sleep. Deep sleep can last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. In the first half of the night, deep sleep will last for longer periods, and then become shorter with each repeated sleep cycle.
After the deep sleep cycle occurs, your body then enters into REM sleep.
In this first stage of REM sleep:
- Eyes move rapidly from side to side
- Dreaming occurs due to brain activity, increasing to a more wakeful state
- Heart rate increases
- Breathing becomes faster and irregular at times
- Limbs may even become temporarily paralyzed
Now that we know all there is to know about the stages of sleep and where deep sleep falls into that, we can talk about the importance of deep sleep.
Why Is Deep Sleep So Important?
A few benefits of deep sleep include:
- In the brain, glucose metabolism increases, which supports short-term and long-term memory, and the overall ability to retain information.
- The pituitary gland secretes important hormones, such as growth hormones, which help with growth and development in the body.
- Restoration of overall energy.
- Regeneration of cells.
- Increased blood supply to muscles.
- Promotes growth and repair of tissues and bones.
- Strengthens the immune system.
As previously stated, deep sleep is largely responsible for memory retention. Deep sleep gives the body time to process the information you encounter throughout the day and store all of this information into long-term memory.
Experts call this process synaptic homeostasis. They believe that during this process, the brain frees up space and energy. The theory is that during deep sleep, your brain gets rid of unneeded synapses, which are connections formed when your brain cells communicate with one another. This helps to make important connections stronger and increases the ability to recall information later.
Another process called system consolidation occurs during deep sleep. As you sleep, your brain begins to replay the information you learned earlier in the day. Specific brain rhythms then work together to transfer that new information from the part of your brain called the hippocampus to the neocortex. The slow delta waves that are experienced during deep sleep are also coupled with fast bursts of brain activity called sharp-wave ripples and sleep spindles. Research has suggested that this “neural crosstalk” is how sleep helps memories transfer from short-term to long-term storage.
A lack of deep sleep has been heavily linked to memory problems, specifically in older adults. Those who do not get much deep sleep have higher levels of tau and beta-amyloid, which are proteins in the brain that are linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Many experts believe that deep sleep helps to clear those brain proteins out.
On top of all of these benefits, it is also believed that deep sleep helps to wash “waste” out of the brain. This is because cerebrospinal fluid, the liquid around your brain and spinal cord, flows in and out during deep sleep.
How To Increase Deep Sleep
The benefits of deep sleep go on and on. If you’re waking up feeling groggy and not refreshed, you’re most likely not getting enough of it. But how can you increase deep sleep in your sleep life?
Create (and Stick to) a Bedtime Routine
Our brains thrive in routine because they’re able to do less work when they fall into a routine. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine is an excellent way to promote better deep sleep.
A few things to incorporate into your bedtime routine could be:
- A warm, relaxing bed. Go all out with candles, bubbles, your favorite music, and let yourself relax before you go to bed.
- A good book. Reading is a natural way to relax your brain and help your body settle down.
- A daily journal. Writing everything out about your day, including all your stress and worries can help immensely with falling asleep faster.
White Noise Machine
Try out a white noise machine— they are a great way to relax as you fall asleep and can help to fill the silence of your room. If you’re someone who feels anxious as you’re falling asleep, this might be a great option to help soothe restlessness. White noise contains all frequencies at equal intensity, so it can mask other sounds that may be overstimulating in your brain.
Avoid Your Cellphone
The blue light in all of our phones and other electronic devices is famously known for inhibiting our ability to fall asleep quickly. Blue light suppresses the body’s release of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. Exposing yourself to blue light too close to bedtime can disrupt circadian rhythms, and may make you feel more alert instead of tired as you try to fall asleep.
Blue light stimulates parts of the brain that make us feel alert, which in turn elevates our body temperature and heart rate. During the day, blue light is great because it can improve performance and attention. But it’s not as beneficial at night because it inhibits the ability to fall asleep.
It is suggested to minimize your use of any device with blue light — phones, TVs, laptops, tablets, etc. — for at least an hour before you plan to sleep.
Deep Touch Pressure Therapy
If you want to fall asleep quicker, stay asleep throughout the night, and have a better overall night of deep sleep, you might want to consider a deep touch pressure blanket.
Deep Touch Pressure Therapy, or DTP, is a tactile sensory therapy that applies gentle therapy to the body to help soothe anxiousness, ease restlessness, and help calm overstimulation, all of which can help you fall asleep.
Hug Sleep provides easy access to DTP through the Sleep Pod. Uniquely shaped like a cocoon to wrap you up, it covers your entire body and applies gentle, calming pressure. It’s made from a specialized four-way stretch material that is breathable, lightweight, doesn’t trap heat, and is even machine washable.
Designed with science in mind, the Sleep Pod uses Deep Touch Pressure Therapy to help you get a better night of sleep.
This patented design provides a comfort-inducing relaxation that is sure to help increase deep sleep in your life. And with the newest design, Sleep Pod Move, there is added mobility and freedom for your feet so you can go from a night of rest to your morning cup of coffee.
If you want to experience more deep sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed, deep touch pressure therapy can help you get there.
Get More ZZZ’s
We spend a large portion of our day sleeping, and for good reason! Making sure you’re getting enough sleep, as well as enough quality deep sleep is vital to overall health and wellbeing. Deep sleep supports memory, hormone regulation, energy levels, the immune system, and so much more.
Waking up on the wrong side of the bed all the time can be frustrating and exhausting. But don’t lose hope — there are ways to ensure you are getting enough deep sleep in your life so that you wake up feeling ready to seize the day.
Whether it be making a relaxing bedtime routine, trying out a white noise machine, or getting the Hug Sleep blanket, you’ll be sleeping deep in no time.