There’s no better feeling than waking up refreshed after a good night’s sleep! But that refreshed feeling can only happen when you have spent enough time in the deep sleep zone.
Also known as ‘slow wave sleep’, deep sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing. It therefore deserves some attention!
That’s why, in this article, we take a closer look at deep sleep and how you can create the best conditions to get more of it.
What is deep sleep – and why is it important?
Sleep isn’t as simple as you may first think. Each night, we go through FOUR stages of sleep and continue to cycle through them until we wake.
Stage 1 is quite light, where our heartrate gradually drops. In Stage 2, our body temperature drops and slow eye movements cease. In both these stages, you can be woken quite easily.
Stage 3 is where we want to be – this is deep sleep. Your brain waves slow to become delta waves and your heartrate and breathing become very slow. This is the stage at which your body undergoes critical restorative work, such as repairing tissue, building muscle, and strengthening your immune system.
After this, you go into Stage 4, which is known as REM. This is when your heartrate increases, eye movement speeds up, and dreaming occurs.
Then the cycle begins again!
While a person needs all four stages of sleep, deep sleep is especially important for the health and function of our body and mind.
How much sleep do we need?
Children need LOADS of sleep. Newborns in particular require anywhere between 12 and 18 hours of sleep a day!
Luckily, for those of us who need to be productive during the day, adults only need between 7 and 9 hours a night. However, during that time, we need at least 1½ hours to be in the deep sleep zone.
So, here are some tips on how to get more:
1. Improve your sleep hygiene
From stress to screens, there are so many things out to disrupt our sleep, which is why improving your sleep hygiene is important.
This means doing some of the following things to make your body, mind, and environment more conducive to sleep:
- Stick to the same sleep times every night
- Create a dark environment (invest in blackout curtains, or wear a sleep mask)
- Create a cool environment
- Sleep in a comfortable bed and use a good pillow
- Reduce screen usage (TVs, phones, computers) at least an hour before bed
- Journal your thoughts and write down your to-do list for the following day
- Do deep breathing or muscle-relaxing exercises
2. Exercise every day
Getting some exercise each day will help you sleep better in the night, with improvements to your sleep quality and your total sleep time.
There’s no need to do too much – around 30 minutes a day is ample to reap the benefits.
The Sleep Foundation reports that the best time to exercise will depend on your preferences, as both morning and evening exercise have been shown to promote deep sleep.
It’s advised that leaving a gap of at least four hours between exercise and sleep is beneficial, especially if you summer with insomnia.
3. Avoid caffeine in the evening
It sounds obvious, but caffeine is a powerful stimulant and consuming it within seven hours of bedtime can hinder deep sleep.
Unfortunately, it’s not just coffee that can keep you awake. Foods and drinks that contain caffeine also include tea (green and black in particular), chocolate and cocoa, some soft drinks and energy drinks, and some foods that contain coffee flavorings (coffee ice cream, tiramisu, and so on).
In short, if you have trouble getting enough deep sleep, be vigilant with what you eat and drink in the evening.
4. Have a relaxing bath
A long soak in a hot bath (between around 35°C and 45°C) is obviously relaxing, although studies have shown that hot water immersion can actually help reduce your blood pressure and heart rate. It can also slow the production of the stress hormones cortisol and aldosterone.
This is a great excuse to jump in the bath before bed!.
You can improve that sense of relaxation further by mixing some of our popular Relief Salts into your next bath. These all-natural Epsom salts are infused with a range of calming essential oils such as frankincense and eucalyptus that can help cultivate a deep feeling of relaxation.
5. Try listening to binaural beats
Finally, you may want to try creating a playlist of binaural beats and doze off to sleep while listening to them. In short, binaural beats provide a tone of different frequency in each year, both with frequencies less than 1000Hz.
The lower the BPM (beats per minute), the better the track will be at encouraging a deep sleep – anything around 60BPM or lower will be perfect. You can usually find these on music streaming platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music.
Are you going to incorporate any of these tips into your day to help improve your sleep? Sweet dreams! 💤