This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
The language associated with sleep is very complex and can be too confusing for some of us to keep up with. Words like deep sleep and REM are thrown about casually these days with the invention of health tracking watches which tell us detailed information about our sleep. So what is deep sleep, and how much of it do you need? Are YOU getting enough deep sleep?
Deep sleep is the last stage of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, according to the Sleep Association.
It is the point during your sleep at which your brain waves are at their slowest and your neocortical neurons are able to rest.
While you are in a deep sleep, your breathing and heart rate drop to their lowest levels and your brain activity slows.
Deep sleep is the sleep stage associated with your memories, but your general body is also rebuilding and repairing.
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We spend a quarter of our time asleep in deep sleep and we’re completely unconscious during it.
During deep sleep, you’re not dreaming and you’re pretty much oblivious to external light, sound and movements.
According to Sound Sleep Health, deep sleep is the most “physiologically profound stage of sleep.
“When you enter this stage, your body releases human growth hormone (HGH), a powerful substance that plays a vital role in cellular repair.
“Built-up waste products are flushed away, tissues are repaired and regrown, bones and muscles are built especially in growing children, and the immune system is strengthened.”
Why is deep sleep important?
When scientists discuss which sleep stage is the most important, there are often different answers because each stage has its benefits.
Some scientists say deep sleep is the phase that makes you feel the most well-rested and refreshed when you wake up.
The Sound Sleep Health site explains: “It effectively erases the accumulated need for sleep that builds over a normal day of wakefulness, and may play a major role in helping clear the brain for new learning the following day.”
REM sleep is different and just as important because it is more about mental maintenance – dreaming, learning, retaining information, than physical maintenance.
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How much deep sleep do you need?
The average person needs between six and nine hours of sleep a night, and deep sleep normally consists of 15 to 25 percent of this.
So, in theory, you should be getting between 54 and 81 minutes of sleep a night on average.
Unfortunately, the amount of deep sleep you get shortens as you get older so you might be on the shorter side of this range.
How to get more deep sleep
To increase the amount of deep sleep you get, you’ll need to get more sleep in general.
Humans sleep through the four cycles of sleep and go through them a few times before waking up, so if you don’t sleep enough you won’t get enough of some types of sleep.
Sleeping more allows you to get through more sleep cycles, which makes it possible to have more deep sleep.
If you always wake up feeling groggy but slept for at least eight hours, you probably haven’t got enough deep sleep.
Exercising early in the day, eating fewer carbs at night, and having a warm bath before bed might help you to get more sleep, which could lead to more deep sleep.
Have you ever heard of pink noise? Well, numerous studies have shown that pink noise (a random low-frequency sound like white noise) can enhance a person’s deep sleep state.
You should also try avoiding blue light screens such as smartphones, computers and televisions before bedtime, avoiding caffeine later in the day, reducing your stress levels, and setting an earlier bedtime.