15 Tips on how to increase deep sleep
Learning how to increase deep sleep could be one of the best things you will ever do for your health. You might be getting your recommended 7-9 hours every night, but are you getting enough deep sleep?
It’s not just the number of hours spent sleeping each night that counts, but the quality of your sleep cycles as well. In this article, we will explore one of the most important cycles and discuss a few tips on how to increase deep sleep.
What is deep sleep?
Deep sleep is also known as slow-wave sleep. Your body goes through different sleep cycles each night, alternating between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) stages.
During deep sleep, your body processes everything you learned throughout the day. It also increases human growth hormone production during this stage, regenerates cells, and restores energy levels.
What causes a lack of deep sleep?
Things that can cause a lack of deep sleep and interfere with the quality of it include:
- Not sleeping enough
- Blue light exposure close to bedtime
- Feeling too warm and uncomfortable
- Overeating before bed
- Drinking alcohol
- Consuming too much caffeine
- Blood sugar imbalances
How much deep sleep do you need?
We spend around 10% to 28% of sleep in a state of deep sleep. If you are getting 8 hours in, then that is 1 to 2.5 hours spent in a state of deep sleep each night. As you age, your requirements for deep sleep reduce. For example, a 30-year old will need more of it than a 70-year old.
How to increase deep sleep?
Below are 15 tips to help increase deep sleep by improving the quality and duration of your sleep.
1. Stick to a routine
Getting into a routine can help a lot in terms of improving the quality and duration of your deep sleep. Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time every day. This will help your body get into a better circadian rhythm and help you start to feel tired and doze off at roughly the same time every night.
2. Cut down on caffeine
Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine close to bedtime. Caffeine increases adrenalin and cortisol levels, which can keep you awake and make you feel restless.
It’s best to avoid consuming caffeine after 2 pm or at least 6 hours before going to bed. Each person metabolises caffeine at a different rate, and it might take your body quite a few hours to get it out of your system.
3. Create a sleep sanctuary
Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary ideal for rest. Make sure that the room is as dark as possible. Remove sources of light, and blue light specifically, such as TVs, your cellphone, tablet, fluorescent and LED bulbs, and other electronic devices.
You could play relaxing music for a few minutes after retreating to your room, read a book, or journal a bit before you call it a night.
4. Reduce blue light exposure before bed
Blue light exposure before bed can reduce the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, in your brain. Watching TV, playing on your tablet or phone, or working on your laptop before bed can reduce the quality and duration of deep sleep. Try turning devices off an hour or so before you go to bed and replace the habit of using them with an indulgent skincare routine, reading a book, or listening to music.
5. Make your environment the ideal temperature
Did you know that the temperature of your room has a big impact on sleep quality? If the room is too warm, you might struggle to fall asleep or become restless throughout the night. Don’t lie under too many blankets, wear pyjamas made with lightweight fabrics, take a cold bath or shower before bed to cool your body down, get a cooling pad to put on your bed.
The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 16°C and 18°C (60°F to 65°F).
6. Stop eating a few hours before bed
Having a full stomach when you go to bed can disrupt sleep. This can cause heartburn, as well as indigestion. Try to stop eating at least three hours before going to bed to give your body enough time to digest your food.
7. Don’t exercise before bedtime
Exercising close to sleep is not ideal because exercising intensely and for long periods is stimulating for the body, which wakes the body up and can make it hard to wind down.
8. Limit alcohol consumption
Not only does consuming alcohol go hand-in-hand with staying out and going to bed very late, but alcohol lowers the quality of your sleep. It suppresses melatonin, which is an essential hormone for managing sleep cycles.
9. Balance your blood sugar levels
When your blood sugar levels drop, cortisol levels increase, which can wake you up throughout the night or far earlier in the morning than you wanted to get out of bed. Consult your doctor if you struggle with blood sugar imbalances and try a low-GI or low-carb diet to see if it helps improve blood sugar levels and how it impacts your sleep.
10. Time your naps properly
If you’re going to take a nap, don’t do it too late in the day, as waking up too close to bedtime might make it hard for you to go to sleep when you want to. Try using a sleep tracker at night to analyse your sleep and determine whether you would benefit from napping.
11. Exercise regularly
Exercising regularly, especially in the morning, can help improve your circadian rhythm and help you get into a consistent sleep pattern. Simply increasing your workout frequency to a few times a week can already have a big impact.
12. Listen to white or pink noise before bed
One tip that can help you greatly is to listen to white or pink noise before you go to bed. The sounds can make it much easier for your mind to calm down and your body to go into a state of rest. Pink noise is lower in tone than white noise and both consist of a range of frequencies.
13. Try ASMR videos
ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos have become quite popular among those who struggle with insomnia and want to improve their circadian rhythm. How ASMR videos work to help people relax is by triggering a sensation going from the scalp down the spine through sights and sounds, such as crackling, whispering, tapping, stroking, tracing, etc. which then has a calming effect.
They are frequently used by many who struggle to wind down and doze off at night.
14. Keep a journal
If endless thoughts and troubles are keeping you up at night, it might be a good idea to start journaling. Write down your thoughts and concerns, as putting them down on paper can help organise your thoughts, help you figure out how to solve your problems, put your mind at ease, and help you get a peaceful night’s rest.
15. Consider professional help
If you have tried all of the above and you’re still struggling to increase deep sleep, then consult your doctor and consider undergoing a sleep study. You can have your sleep quality and cycles analysed by doctors, and they can give you personalised guidance on how to increase deep sleep.
Understand your sleep needs
Each individual has different needs when it comes to the amount of sleep they need each night to function effectively in the world. It might take some time and experimenting to find out just how much rest you need and what to do to improve the quality of your sleep cycles to feel energetic and perform like your best self. Start by applying these 15 tips on how to increase deep sleep and see how you feel.