Also known as slow wave sleep, deep sleep is defined by the stage of your sleep in which your brain slows down the most. While most experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep every night for an optimal amount of rest, if you’ve ever thought about just how much of this needs to be deep sleep, you’re far from alone.
Whether you’re wondering what the best mattress for your sleep might be, or you simply need to to figure out if you’re striking the right balance between NREM and REM sleep, here’s everything you need to know about accomplishing a sleep schedule that’s actually productive:
What are the stages of sleep?
To understand what deep sleep is, you first need to understand what the stages of sleep are. Cycling through the various different phases is totally natural, but every individual has their own unique way of moving through these changes, and this is what’s known as their sleep architecture.
Roughly speaking, there are two stages of sleep – NREM, and REM, which stand for non rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement respectively. NREM sleep is divided further into four separate categories:
Stage 1 – The earliest stage of NREM sleep also happens to be the lightest phase. You might easily wake in between this phase of sleep, which does not last for very long either.
Stage 2– The second stage of your sleep cycle is still a relatively light phase, but you begin to experience physiological changes that primes you for the days to come. This means everything from your breathing to your heartbeat slow down, while your muscles relax.
Stage 3 & 4 – These phases of sleep are when you are going to experience deep sleep. During this time, you’re unlikely to wake up from minor background noise or disturbances. Your breathing, heartbeat, body temperature, and brain waves all reach their lowest levels.
While NREM sleep is broken down into a few different phases, REM sleep is more straightforward. The first cycle of REM sleep begins around an hour and a half after you’ve fallen asleep.
As you might be able to pick up by the name, your eyes begin to move around quickly during this phase of sleep, and your brain-waves tend to mimic someone who is awake. Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure all rise to near-waking levels during this period.
What is deep sleep important for?
While all stages of sleep play a vital role for your well-being, deep sleep in particular can be beneficial for restoration. Some of the benefits of deep sleep include:
- Recovery from hard workouts – whether you’re an athlete or you just enjoy consistent workouts, your muscles benefit from the increased blood supply that occurs during deep sleep.
- Consistent amounts of energy throughout the day – for proper energy restoration, deep sleep is going to be vital.
- Preventing diseases and preserving heart health – deep sleep can help you strengthen your immune system, thereby helping stay healthy and well.
How much deep sleep do adults need?
The average adult spends roughly 13-23% of their total sleep cycle in deep sleep. It’s important to remember that deep sleep does decrease with age, meaning if you’re under thirty, you probably average about two hours of sleep per night, whereas if you’re over sixty-five, you may only get half an hour of deep sleep every night.
Children tend to need more deep sleep, given how critical it is for growth and development. It is recommended toddlers sleep eleven to fourteen hours every night, while school-aged children get nine to twelve hours of sleep every night.
How to get better sleep
If you’re after more deep sleep, there are a couple of ways you can ensure you’re resting better than ever. These include:
- Finding the best mattress for comfy sleep: When it comes to ensuring you’re getting proper rest, finding the best mattress for your sleep is going to make a world of difference. Finding the best mattress for your personal comfort might depend on a couple of different factors.
One of the easiest ways to find the best mattress for your sleep is to work backwards from where you’re struggling most. For instance, the best mattress for stomach sleepers will likely be on the firmer side, to keep your back aligned in your sleep. The best mattress for side sleepers, on the other hand, can be a little softer.
- Practicing healthy sleep hygiene habits: Once you’ve found the best mattress for your sleep, ensuring you get the right amount of deep sleep is all about honing in on healthier sleep hygiene habits.
Healthy sleep hygiene habits come in a myriad of forms. Whether it’s having a cut-off time for phone usage before bed, tucking into a good bedtime story as you wind down, or having a warm shower before bed, there are plenty of ways you can ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep.
- Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it: Even the best mattress for sleep is not going to be able to prevent you from resting poorly if you don’t have a schedule. Your body thrives on routine and structure, which is why it’s especially important to have a set time every evening and morning that you’re able to follow.
Not only does this help you get proper rest, it’ll also ensure you’re creating time every day for sleep, which can be really helpful when you’re trying to rest better. Deep sleep is one of the most crucial elements of getting a good night’s rest, and it can have a profoundly positive impact on your sleep cycle in the long-term.
Once you’re able to work out the differences between deep sleep and the other stages of sleep, it’s going to be obvious how important getting a full eight hours each night is. Whether it’s by investing in the best mattress you can, or simply working on your sleep hygiene habits, working on it step by step is a sure-fire way to get that sleep you’re after.