Deep Sleep and How to Get It
While the amount of time one spends asleep is important, the quality of that sleep also plays a vital role in health. The American Sleep Association reports that a cycle of sleep consists of five distinct stages and that stages three and four represent "deep sleep." This kind of deep sleep is associated with benefits such as improved cognition and memory — and there are many simple ways to reap these benefits by getting a better night's sleep.
So, what is deep sleep, and how much deep sleep do you need? If you're interested in how to sleep better or want to learn how to increase deep sleep, try one of these sleep tips to improve your sleep quality tonight:
How to Get More Deep Sleep
1. Develop a Routine
If you struggle with how to get deep sleep, one of the best things you can do to help improve your sleep quality is to set a sleep schedule and be consistent with it. According to the Mayo Clinic, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day is the best way for your body to establish a routine and get the sleep it needs. Therefore, it's important that you don't try to "catch up" on sleep over the weekend by sleeping in, as you shouldn't vary your schedule by more than an hour.
Keeping a consistent bedtime/wake-up time can also improve your body's sleep/wake cycle. And, if you need a little extra rest, taking a nap in the early afternoon can help supplement your sleep when you need it most. However, when you feel you need a nap, it's important to limit that nap to only 30 minutes, as excessive napping can make it harder to fall asleep at night and throw off your circadian rhythm.
2. Create a Good Environment
The National Sleep Foundation notes that having a good sleep environment that is cool, dark, and quiet is vital to getting your best rest. Research has shown that the ideal sleep environment is between 60 and 67 degrees, and noise and light should be limited. If needed, use devices such as black-out curtains, eye shades, earplugs, fans or white noise machines to create a great sleep environment.
Also, electronic devices, including computers, televisions, and telephones should not be used in the bedroom. And, the best mattresses can actually help complete your sleep space and improve your sleep quality, so make sure you're using a mattress that is comfortable and supportive.
3. Manage Stress
When searching for how to improve deep sleep, it's important to take into consideration your stress level. Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, so the National Sleep Foundation notes that it is important to spend at least an hour before going to bed engaged in quiet, calming activities, such as taking a bath or reading. Developing a nighttime routine helps separate the time to sleep from activities that are too stimulating. The Mayo Clinic suggests that if an individual can't fall asleep within 20 minutes of bedtime, that it is a good idea to leave the bedroom and do something relaxing such as reading or listening to soft music and then return to bed so that the bedroom is always associated with sleep instead of other activities.
Physical activity does more than just help someone to stay fit: Harvard Health reports that it also can improve sleep as long as it does not occur too soon before bedtime. Regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, running or swimming, actually helps to improve sleep quality. Not only is it possible to get to sleep more quickly, but it also helps with deeper, more restorative sleep and fewer early wakings.
5. Be Mindful of Food and Drink
Food and drink also play a role in the quality of sleep. Many people who go to bed weighed down with a heavy meal will only get up later with indigestion. The National Sleep Foundation also suggests that it is better to avoid large or heavy meals within two or three hours of bedtime. A light snack about forty-five minutes before bed is usually helpful at staving off hunger. And, avoiding foods and drinks with caffeine or alcohol before bed is also preferable since these can both interfere with sleep quality.
Improving the quality of your sleep is important, so test out the tips above and see how your sleep is improved so you can start each day feeling truly refreshed!