Sleep is so important for the human body. We become energized and ready to take on the world after a good night’s sleep. But we can become well-rested and ready only if we get more deep sleep.
Slow wave sleep, often known as deep sleep, is a critical phase of the sleep cycle that supports healthy brain and memory function. It is also called slow wave sleep. Deep sleep occurs only when we are truly relaxed.
The science of sleep is fairly complex, even though most adults know that an average adult should strive to achieve between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
Stages Of Sleep
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep are the two basic types of sleep, and each includes significant stages. We won’t feel well rested if most of our total sleep time is characterized by non-rem sleep.
These stages are cycled through by humans when they sleep in a rather predictable manner, and a full night’s sleep entails going through each stage several times before waking up.
Some strategies might improve sleep quality and increase deep sleep each night so that you wake up feeling more rested and renewed. Before we learn how to increase deep sleep, we must understand sleep stages and the science behind sleep.
The body initially cycles through the three non-REM stages of sleep:
The first stage of the sleep cycle is a phase of transition when the body and brain change from a wakeful to a sleeping state.
Sleep is light during this brief stage, which only lasts a few minutes.
This sleep stage is the easiest to wake up from compared to other stages.
The body begins to slow its rhythms during stage one. The eyes start to relax, and the respiration and heart rates settle.
The body and the mind both relax. As sensory input and brain activity decline, the brain waves slow down. The muscles also unwind; however they could twitch once in a while.
The body goes from the first stage of non-REM sleep to the second, which is a lighter sleep period.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and stroke, humans spend most of their sleep cycle in this stage.
In this sleep stage, the heart rate and respiratory rate in the body both decrease even further. Further, then the muscles relax and cause the eyes to stop moving.
Additionally, the body’s temperature drops. At this stage, there are still brief electrical bursts in the brain even though the brain waves are slowing down even further.
The stage following the 2nd stage is the deep sleep stage. It is alternatively called slow wave sleep.
Even if the body goes through a few cycles during the night, this sleep stage happens more frequently during the first half of the night.
During this sleep cycle phase, the body’s heart and respiratory rates are at their lowest. The brain waves slow down even further, the muscles relax, and the eyes are likewise quite relaxed.
When a person is in this stage of sleep, which is when sleep disorders like sleepwalking occur, it may be exceedingly challenging to wake them up.
The fourth and last stage of the sleep cycle is REM sleep. Our body enters the REM sleep stage for the first time, close to 90 minutes after we fall asleep. The REM stage is otherwise known as delta sleep. This is the stage of sleep that we aspire to improve when we look up ways to increase deep sleep.
The eyes dart back and forth behind the closed eyelids during this stage of sleep. This is the deepest stage of our sleep cycle.
Compared to previous sleep stages, this one is closest to being awake. The brain waves mimic those in the waking state during REM sleep.
The rate of respiration and heartbeat quicken. The majority of dreams take place during the REM sleep stage. The brain briefly paralyzes the arms and legs to stop the body from enacting these dreams.
During REM sleep, the brain is active since we are in the process of dreaming. Because of this, the blood supply to the brain increases. In addition, the blood supply to the entire body also improves.
Delta waves, the distinctive slow waves for which this sleep stage is named, are the primary low frequency (1-4 Hz), high amplitude variations of stage IV sleep, the deepest level of sleep.
It typically takes an hour to go from being sleepy to deep, stage IV sleep.
Relevance Of Deep Sleep
Now, why is it important to have adequate deep sleep? Why should we focus on how to improve deep sleep? Why should we stress on full 7 to 8 hours of sleep with enough deep sleep?
Why is getting enough deep sleep crucial for a good night’s rest? Why should we aim to achieve more slow-wave sleep? Why should we worry about how to increase deep sleep? Why must we look up ways and means how to increase the deep sleep stage? In short, why is deep sleep important?
The benefits of deep sleep are numerous. It is important to take steps to understand sleep. Let’s look at why deep sleep is important.
Growth And Regeneration Of Cells
The pituitary gland releases the human growth hormone, which causes our bodies to start mending muscle and tissue and regenerating cells. This happens when we sleep.
This is why we are so concerned about how much deep sleep we get, especially in the case of children.
Additionally, deep sleep increases the amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that enters our bodies and removes cell waste.
The hazardous protein beta-amyloid, which has been related to Alzheimer’s disease, is also removed from brain neurons by CSF. Hence sufficient deep sleep is indispensable for ensuring our growth and wellness.
Healthy Immune System
Good deep sleep helps improve the body’s overall health by improving the immune system. According to studies, getting enough sleep helps us fight off disease and infections, reduces inflammation, and increases the effectiveness of immunizations. This is why it is imperative to get enough deep sleep.
Better Memory And Learning
Deep sleep enables us to reduce metabolism and save energy for the next day by lowering our body temperature, brain temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
This energy conservation encourages higher glucose metabolism, which aids in learning and consolidating short- and long-term memories.
You’ll wake up the next day with more energy if you conserve energy while sleeping deeply.
Sleep aids in improving our energy levels throughout the day. According to research, this might be because there is more adenosine triphosphate in a deep sleep, which gives cells more energy. Less deep sleep is associated with fatigue and low energy levels throughout the day.
The human brain is both a complex and wondrous organ. For our brains to function properly, adequate sleep is a necessity. Our brain truly relaxes, and the brain waves slow down only when we are in a deep sleep. Hence, for optimum brain health, we must get enough deep sleep.
If it so happens that we are not getting enough deep sleep, it can affect our health, especially our brain and other vital organs, in the long run.
A range of illnesses known as sleep disorders impacts regular, sound sleep.
Most people periodically have trouble sleeping due to stress, busy schedules, and other external factors.
These can be potential tell-tale signs of sleeping disorders if they occur too frequently or adversely affect the daily life activities of an individual.
Depending on their sleep disorder, people may experience sleep restriction and acute fatigue throughout the day. These adversely affect how much deep sleep we get.
Lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on one’s overall health, vitality, and mood.
Insomnia refers to a person’s inability to fall asleep or remain asleep. The common causes of the problem can be anxiety, jet lag, hormones, stress, or even digestive problems.
At times it can even be a symptom of some other underlying condition.
When one finds it difficult to stay asleep, there is no chance that we would be able to have a good deep sleep. Overall, sleep quality gets affected by this lack of deep sleep.
The hallmark of narcolepsy is sleep attacks. These attacks happen during the day when a person is awake. This implies that one will feel drowsy unexpectedly and become overly exhausted.
This condition can also potentially lead to sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a condition that leaves a person physically immobile as soon as they wake up.
Narcolepsy often arises alone but is also quite often linked to neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
The sleep medicine to treat Narcolepsy includes antidepressants and stimulants, among other medications. But all sleep medicine must be consumed only under the advice of a doctor. In addition, no sleep medicine should be consumed for more than 10 days in a row.
3. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
RLS is a condition wherein a person experiences the continuous urge to keep moving their legs. Sometimes a tingling in the legs occurs along with this impulse.
Even though the signs might appear during the day, they are most common during night time
These cause you to remain fidgety and restless and hence adversely affect the amount of deep sleep you get.
4. Sleep Apnea
Breathing pauses while sleeping is a defining feature of sleep apnea. This dangerous medical disorder reduces the amount of oxygen the body can absorb. This disorder inevitably reduces the level of deep sleep and, in turn, affects your overall health.
A sleep tracker is a great solution for monitoring symptoms that can cause sleep apnea.
A sleep tracker monitors the patterns of breathing and level of oxygen and helps in detecting the causes that can be due to sleep apnea.
All of these sleep disorders affect the amount of deep sleep we get.
While looking for ways and means to increase deep sleep, it is imperative first to investigate whether you are suffering from any sleep disorders.
The Road To Good Sleep
Now that we have seen the benefits of deep sleep let’s look at what steps can be undertaken to increase the amount of deep sleep and aid us in staying asleep.
While some people find it difficult to sleep, some have issues getting enough deep sleep. Light sleep is not enough to get good quality sleep and become well-rested. Let us look in detail at how to increase deep sleep.
Working up a sweat helps with sleep.
Others who exercise during the day typically fall asleep more quickly than people who don’t exercise at all. Deep sleep can be bettered through exercise as well.
Additionally, it was discovered that people who exercise 150 minutes each week are twice as likely to have a restful night’s sleep.
However, avoid doing a hard workout immediately before bed because this can increase your heart rate and cause sleep interruptions.
2. Sleep Schedule
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is one of the easiest strategies to acquire more deep sleep each night.
Note when you typically go to bed, then build your sleep pattern.
You can achieve more slow-wave sleep by maintaining a routine where wakefulness and bedtime occur simultaneously every day.
Fixing a particular and fixed sleep time and following it can put your body into the routine and also aid in getting enough sleep.
3. Healthy Diet
When we speak of how to increase deep sleep, as is always the case, diet affects this too. A wholesome and well-balanced diet affects the quality of your sleep, in addition to helping you lose weight. How can we leave out the importance of a healthy diet when describing how to increase deep sleep?
According to studies, consuming more fiber can lengthen the time spent in deep sleep.
Attempt to eat extra fibre during the day and do other things that help you get more deep sleep.
4. Regulate Caffeine Intake
Everyone looking for steps to increase deep sleep might have heard that caffeine and good deep sleep don’t go hand in hand. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it may be more difficult for you to get to sleep, resulting in sleep deprivation.
Additionally, it may lessen the quantity of deep sleep you get. According to one study, ingesting caffeine seven hours before night shortens sleep by one hour.
Instead, stick to decaffeinated beverages like tea, water, and others. Warm milk and chamomile tea are two beverages that can help you fall asleep. Falling asleep quicker helps to improve deep sleep as well.
5. Sleep Sanctuary
You should be able to fall asleep easily where you sleep each night. It will also be cooler because there won’t be any loud noises or bright lights.
The ideal temperature for sleeping is in the range of 16- 20 degrees Celsius.
Use dim, amber light bulbs on your nightstand, and refrain from using electronics for at least an hour before bed.
Additionally crucial is having a supportive mattress that is comfy for you to sleep on.
You will undoubtedly fall asleep quickly if you combine this with your preferred pillow and a cozy comforter. Deep sleep occurs only when we set the ambiance to enjoy some deep sleep.
Make your room comfortable and welcoming so that it is not only easy to fall asleep but also helps you get enough deep sleep. Setting the ambiance will induce sleep easily and smoothly.
Ensure that your bedroom is peaceful, comfortable, tidy, and enjoyable. Reduce external noise, light, and artificial lighting from things like alarm clocks in your bedroom to the absolute minimum. This will help you get to sleep quickly and more deeply.
6. Pink Noise And White Noise
Your ability to go to sleep and stay asleep depends on sound. Moreover, the amount of deep sleep also is improved by listening to these ambient noises.
Try utilizing white noise to drown out any sounds that might keep you from sleeping and staying asleep if you live in a busy city or have noisy neighbors.
Listening to pink noise might be helpful for people who want to improve their deep slumber.
Pink noise represents peaceful natural noises, such as continuous rain or beach wave crashing.
In older adults, it has been discovered that pink noise promotes deep sleep and enhances memory.
7. Abstain From Alcohol
Alcohol consumption before bed may aid in lulling you to sleep, but it’s unlikely that you’ll stay asleep.
The body processes the alcohol when you have a nightcap before bed.
Once it loses its calming effect, it frequently has a rebound effect that wakes you up in the middle of the night and prevents you from falling asleep deeply.
If giving up alcohol seems unattainable, stick to having a glass or two early in the evening to prevent waking up at three in the morning.
8. Practice Mindfulness And Yoga
Yoga is a fantastic method to calm your body and mind and help you sleep better.
According to one study, people who engage in cyclic meditation, a technique that entails holding yoga poses while lying on their back for rest intervals, are more likely to have deep, slow-wave sleep.
Include yoga in your everyday exercise regimen, or do it immediately before bed. Indulge in mindfulness and meditation practices as part of your bedtime routine to relax and calm your body and mind. When we are relaxed, we are more likely to get more deep sleep.
Being relaxed and present affects how much deep sleep we manage to clock in each night.
Focus on the body- and mind-calming yoga positions to promote sleep.
9. Take A Relaxing Shower Or Bath
Another well-liked method to get more rest is to take a soothing warm bath or shower.
According to studies, they can assist people, especially older ones, attain deep sleep more quickly and improve the deep sleep stage.
In one study, having a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime increased the depth and quality of sleep.
If you prefer not to take a complete bath at night, you can still relax and get better sleep by merely immersing your feet in hot water. This step is equally effective in achieving more deep sleep.
10. Stay Away From Your Screens
This solution is sure to turn up whenever you are looking for the answer to how to increase deep sleep. That is to stay away from the screens before you go to bed. The blue light emitted from devices like mobile phones and laptops can hinder the body’s circadian rhythm. This meddles with our sleep and results in less deep sleep.
To attain a good amount of deep sleep, always switch off your screens at least half an hour before bedtime.
Your screens must not be a part of your nightly routine. Even better, have a no screens rule in your bedroom. Spending too much time staring into a screen at night surely affects how much sleep you get. Blue light can disrupt sleep patterns and affect total sleep quality.
Studies have shown that one hour of screen time delays sleeps by up to 3 hours. When we have difficulty getting sleep, we inevitably get lesser deep sleep.
11. Use A Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket is a popular solution for how to increase deep sleep. Weighted blankets help us fall asleep faster.
Deep pressure stimulation, used by weighted blankets, is hypothesized to enhance levels of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep, decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and stimulates the creation of serotonin, improving mood.
This might enhance the general effectiveness of sleep, including helping to get more deep sleep.
So above are some of the tested methods to increase deep sleep.
If you are searching for methods for how to increase deep sleep, try these tips and tricks.
However, if you are unable to find success from these, be sure to consult a doctor and get yourself checked.
If you liked this, read similar articles here.
While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.
Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.