Not getting enough sleep can cause exhaustion, sickness and grumpiness. We’ve all been there. But what about quality, deep sleep? Ever had that feeling of fatigue even though you’ve had a solid 8 hours? Yes, that’s probably because you’ve not allowed your body to have the proper amount of deep sleep. It’s super important for maintaining a healthy mind and body, but many people are still left wondering how to make the most out of the sleep they’re getting.
That’s why we’re here to help. We’ve put together an easy to follow guide, featuring everything you need to know about the different types of sleep you need to get the best quality from your night under the covers. So whether you’re curious about how to stop feeling groggy, how much deep sleep you really need or how to get more deep cycles, keep on reading to find out.
We know how it feels to be tired of being tired, so we’ve done the research to help you spend less time wondering and more time sleeping.
What is deep sleep really made of?
Deep sleep. What is it? We might use it in daily conversation to mean that sleep where not even the loudest snoring can wake you up and you’re all groggy when woken. But it’s a bit more technical than that in truth. Sleep experts have found that there’s actually science behind the theory of a good night’s sleep, and deep sleep is just one part of it. Bear with us on this one.
When we rest, our body cycles through five stages of sleep, and each stage affects our body and brain differently. Stages one to four are known as NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. They can be split into two stages – light sleep and deep sleep. Stage five is REM (rapid eye moment) sleep, when our brains become super active and cause us to dream. Healthy sleep regularly cycles through these different types of sleep, and each one is an important part of waking up refreshed.
Deep sleep, “slow wave sleep” or delta sleep, occurs in stages three and four of NREM sleep. Our heartbeat, breathing and brain waves slow down even further and our muscles relax, making it more difficult to be woken up. It’s important to remember that every stage of sleep is important for functions like storing memories and making useful connections in the brain. As it’s impossible to control what stages of sleep we pass through, and in what order, the only sure way to get more deep sleep cycles is to allow more time for sleep.
It’s in the deep sleep and REM periods that our bodies work hard to recover and rejuvenate. But what does this mean? By giving our bodies more deep sleep, we’re allowing ourselves a better quality of slumber. We can sleep and wake, refreshed.
Why do you need deep sleep?
As well as waking refreshed, deep sleep can help to improve our overall health and performance. See the list of deep sleep benefits for yourself:
- Promotes short-term and long-term memory
- Aids growth and development of the body
- Helps energy restoration and cell regeneration
- Increases blood supply to muscles
- Repairs tissues and bones
- Strengthens the immune system
- Helps to boost overall learning
How much deep sleep do you need?
Unlike regular sleep, there’s no set rule on how many hours of deep sleep we need. It’s all about quality not quantity.
Roughly 13 to 23 percent of your total sleep is deep sleep, but this tends to decrease with age as younger people need it more to help with growth and development. Those under the age of 30 may get around two hours of deep sleep each night, while over 65s may only get half an hour. And that’s enough to make you feel your best, believe it or not.
We are all guilty of trying to catch up on a week of poor rest with one big Saturday lie in, but don’t forget that sleep doesn’t work quite this way. Operating on a deficit isn’t something our bodies are built for, and one big sleep won’t “get those hours back”. Try to make short nights a rarity and you won’t be losing out on the positive effects in the long term.
How to get more deep sleep
- Cut the blue light before bed
As if you needed another reason to put your mobile phone down, studies have shown that exposing yourself to the blue light transmitted from smart devices and computers can affect your sleep pattern. Using an LED back-lit device up to one hour before bed stimulates your brain instead of powering it down and getting ready for sleep.
- Keep a similar bedtime each night
Sometimes you need to commit in order to see results, and achieving better sleep is one of those times. Keeping a consistent bedtime is key to having a better sleep routine, which will help you to get more deep sleep. Falling into a routine will enable your body to stay in alignment and follow a sleep cycle more easily.
- Improve your sleep environment
Whether you like it hot, cold or somewhere in between, creating an optimal sleep environment is a must for getting more deep sleep. Science suggests that the perfect temperature is around 19.5 degrees celsius, but listen to your body and find a temperature that feels right for you.
The lighting in your room also plays a big part in deep sleep. When you’re in a dark space, your brain releases the hormone melatonin which helps get you ready to rest. While it doesn’t put you to sleep, it works with the rhythm of your body to regulate your sleeping and waking patterns. This is why blue lights should be dimmed before bed, as they can inhibit your melatonin production and disrupt your sleep cycles.
- Avoid eating large meals or exercising before bed
Guilty of a midnight snack? Well that guilt is your brain telling you that there’s a good reason why you should avoid eating too close to bedtime. Having a large meal in the three hours before you hit the sack can really disrupt your sleep and decrease how much deep sleep you get.
And it’s the same with exercise. Doing vigorous exercise before you sleep means that your body isn’t preparing to rest. Instead, it’s working overtime to regulate back to normal. That’s no excuse not to exercise at all (sorry, we’re not here to let you off that easy), just try to do it earlier in the day.
- Cut the caffeine and in the day, and alcohol in the evening
Reducing your consumption of caffeine in the day will help you to prepare your body to sleep. Having this stimulant in your system will increase your alertness and speed up your heartbeat – not the ideal conditions for winding down for the night.
Drinking alcohol may also make it harder to settle into a slumber. Like caffeine and nicotine, alcohol disrupts your body’s natural balance, making it work harder to fall asleep. A nightcap might make some people fall asleep quicker, but it reduces the amount of REM sleep that you get. Just because you’re out for the count after a night out, doesn’t mean you’re getting the rest your body craves.
- White or pink noise
Audio aids like white and pink noise are popular for helping people to get to sleep and regulate brain wave patterns. White noise, an array of frequencies all played together; and pink noise, like a log fire burning, waves lapping on a beach or a grandfather clock ticking, can be played to help soothe and induce deep sleep.
- Reduce stress
Did you know that stress is one of the biggest contributors to poor sleep? Just think about any time you’ve ever laid in bed unable to snooze because something’s been on your mind. It may be impossible to lead a stress-free life, but there are definitely ways you can try to combat stress. From meditation and yoga, to things like listening to your favourite song, they can help to calm your mind and reduce any anxieties you’ve had from the day.
- Set aside more time for sleep
The best way to get more deep sleep is to give yourself more time for sleep. This way you’re allowing your body to go through more sleep cycles, and therefore increasing the amount of time you pass through the deep sleep stage. So the next time you look at the clock and think, “I’ll go to bed in an hour’s time, that’ll be enough,” ask yourself whether you’re really giving yourself the opportunity to have a truly good night’s sleep. And what the cost might be tomorrow if you don’t.
Quick tips for a better quality of sleep
It’s easy for us to list the proven ways to help you get more deep sleep, but even we have to admit that it’s just not achievable sometimes. From busy working lives to bustling families, trying to apply every single one of our tips for deep sleep every night is not always realistic. That’s why we’ve added a list of ways to get a better quality of sleep that you don’t have to change your whole lifestyle for. Sleep shouldn’t be a chore that you have to go out of your way to enjoy. We want to help you feel rejuvenated as possible every time you wake up.
- Dim your screen before bed
In an ideal world, putting your phone down an hour before you go to bed should be a breeze. But in a culture where it’s become the norm to take work home with you, and communication via technology has become a necessity rather than a luxury, shutting off our screens can be a hindrance. Try turning down the brightness on your screen past 9pm to give your eyes a bit of a break before bed.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Having children might be one of life’s greatest joys, but it’s a joy (and struggle) that can also be shared with others. If you’re feeling the stress of wrangling a family of five into bed every evening and it’s beginning to impact you own health, remember that help is never far away. Speak to your partner, parents, friends or even a child minder about helping you out one night a week so you can enjoy some “me” time. It might be the reset that makes all the difference.
- Write a to-do list
Having a million and one things to do is nearly as hard as having to remember them all. Every morning, write out a list of all the things you want to achieve for the day. Mapping out your tasks enables you to see clearly what you have to do and allows you to prioritise them. And in the evening, tick off all of the things you’ve done. Stress relief can be as simple as seeing the progress you’ve made.
- Everything in moderation
Sometimes you can’t help eating a big meal too close to bedtime, or you want to enjoy a nice evening out with loved ones. And we’re here to say, enjoy yourself instead of punishing yourself! Rules are made to be broken after all…even ours. So whether you fall asleep straight after dinner time or agree to a night out with some friends, give yourself a well-deserved break and try not to make it a steadfast habit.
- Treat yourself
Fancy sleeping aids and regulating your room temperature and lighting each night is a lovely thought, but often it’s just that. A thought. So why not treat yourself to the things that you will actually use every night? We spend around a third of our day sleeping, so it makes sense to invest in quality bedding that provides ultimate comfort when we need it the most.
All Tom & Dick’s bedding is made entirely from 100% natural fibres and is OEKO-TEX certified, meaning there’s no nasty chemicals in any of our products. We’ve found the best formula for creating the perfect set of bedding for every type of sleeper, and our artisans spend 240 hours making each and every set, so you know that what you’re getting is made to last.
Percale Crisp is great all year round if you’re the last to put a jumper on. Sateen Smooth is perfect for those of you who are the first to turn the heating on, and our Linen Light is great for hot summers and cool winters. Order your free sample pack today to find your finish. We promise we care about sleep just as much as you do, if not more!
Visit Tom & Dick’s and browse our range of luxury bedding, available in three different finishes to suit every sleeper. Find your fit and unlock your best night’s sleep today.