It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night but we all know this can sometimes be a challenge. Don’t worry—we’re here to help! We’ve got some tips and useful information for you.
What is Deep Sleep?
Deep sleep, also known as delta sleep, is one of the phases of your sleep cycle and occurs during the first few hours of sleep. This is when your muscles relax and your heart rate decreases, allowing you to truly fall into a “deep sleep.”
Deep sleep is considered a healing phase of sleep because your muscles receive increased blood supply and body tissues are repaired. It’s also incredibly vital for a child’s development since deep sleep affects human growth hormones. The pituitary gland in the brain releases these hormones into the bloodstream during deep sleep. In turn, a lack of sleep can negatively affect this necessary process.
What is REM Sleep?
After deep sleep comes REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement and makes up about 25% of your sleep cycle. Your REM cycle starts approximately 70-90 minutes after you’re asleep and is considered the last of five sleep cycle phases. Keep in mind that you’re constantly cycling through these phases throughout the night so you’ll be in REM multiple times.
REM helps you store memories as well as learn new information. It also affects our mood, which makes sense since we tend to be cranky and irritable when running on little sleep.
Why is Sleep Important?
WebMD lists some serious health consequences associated with not getting enough sleep:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
Benefits of Dreaming
Dreaming also takes place during your REM cycle (and even during non-REM phases of sleep). These dreams are your mind’s way of processing information and even trying to deal with stress.
Dreaming may also aid those suffering from depression because it gives the brain an opportunity to unconsciously face conflict, leading to an increased chance of recovery.
Tips for Deep Sleep
Now that we know why sleep is so vital, here are some tips to help you stay asleep throughout the night.
1. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Before Bed
Yes, some people love their nightcaps but they can sometimes do more harm than good when it comes to healthy sleep.
It’s obvious why caffeine is a no-go (it’s a stimulant).
Alcohol decreases the amount of time you’re in REM sleep, and as we know, REM is vital for your health. You’ll wake up in the morning feeling tired instead of refreshed.
Let’s not forget that alcohol is a diuretic so there’s a good chance you’ll be forced to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, another way in which your sleep is negatively affected.
2. Turn Down Your Thermostat
There’s nothing pleasant about feeling sweaty and overheated in the middle of the night. Having your thermostat set at too high a temperature can seriously impact your sleep. To avoid this discomfort, we recommend setting your thermostat around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Worried about cost in the summer? Set your thermostat a bit higher and add some fans to the room to increase air flow.
3. Relax the Body & Mind
Meditation and breathing exercises are a wonderful way to get your body and mind ready for bed.
Close your eyes, feel your breath, and become in tune with each part of your body. Start from your toes and work your way up. Relax your ankles, your legs, your arms. Forget outside stresses for the time being. Toss tomorrow’s to-do list aside and be present in that moment. Give your body and mind permission to rest.
4. Use a Sound Machine
Sound machines are super helpful, especially if you live in a noisy apartment building or vibrant city that never sleeps.
Startling and sudden sounds, such as a car horn or a door slamming, can interrupt your sleep, especially when you have yet to enter deep sleep. Having a constant, relaxing sound can mitigate these disturbances. The soothing sound will act as a buffer from unwanted noises which means a better night’s sleep.
5. Knowledge is Power: Track Your Sleep Stages
Take advantage of modern technology and track your sleep stages. One popular way to do this is through your Fitbit.
How does the device even know you’re sleeping? Well, you’ll be physically at rest! Your lack of movement and lowered heart rate lets the device know that it’s your bedtime.
Your Fitbit will track light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. It will show you what percentage of your total sleep time was spent in each stage. It will also compare your results to others who are of the same sex and age group. Incredibly useful and personalized information is right at your fingertips.
We hope you learned something from this article and wish you healthy, deep sleep!