What Is Deep Sleep?
First off, it helps to define deep sleep, so we all know what exactly we’re talking about.
Sleep is divided into two categories: REM and non-REM sleep. You start off the night in non-REM sleep followed by a short period of REM sleep. The cycle continues throughout the night about every 90 minutes with deep sleep occurring in the final stage of non-REM sleep.
What Happens During Deep Sleep?
During deep sleep your heartbeat and breathing become their slowest as your muscles relax, your brain waves become the slowest they’ll be while you’re asleep, and it’s often difficult to awaken even with loud noises. This sleep stage, deep sleep, is sometimes referred to as “slow wave sleep” or delta sleep. The deep sleep stage lasts anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. It lasts for longer periods in the first half of the night and becomes shorter with each sleep cycle.
While in deep sleep, your brain increases glucose metabolism which supports short-term and long-term memory as well as overall learning. Deep sleep is also when the pituitary gland releases important growth hormones. Deep sleep benefits include energy restoration, cell regeneration, increasing blood supply to muscles, promoting growth and repair of tissues and bones, and strengthening of the immune system.
How Can I Get More Deep Sleep?
If you wake up feeling exhausted, it could be a sign that you’re not getting enough deep sleep. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to increase the amount of deep sleep you get in a night:
- Have a bedtime routine that you stick to every night
- Get the right temperature for your bedroom
- Turn off electronics before bed
- Invest in a quality mattress and pillow
- Exercise at least half an hour every day, even a walk around the block helps
- Use a pink noise machine – leaves in the wind, waves, or light rain sounds
- Make good sleep choices throughout the day by avoiding caffeine late in the day as well as rich or spicy foods
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