Sleep is your body’s way of recharging itself after a long day. Without enough shuteye, your body’s essential functions weaken and that will take a toll on you physically and mentally. However, it’s easier said than done; a lot of us don’t know how to get more deep sleep at night.
If you want to feel great every single time you wake up from Dreamland, this is the guide for you to get more quality sleep.
How To Get More Deep Sleep: Snooze Basics
According to researchers, there are four stages of sleep, which can be categorized into light, deep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Here’s a quick explanation of the stages of sleep.
- Stage 1: This is the transition stage from wakefulness to light sleep. Your mind drifts in and out of consciousness, your body temperature drops and your muscles relax with occasional jerks. Your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements start to slow down as well.
- Stage 2: This is the stage your body stays in the longest. Your body functions continue to slow down and relax further as you enter deep sleep. Eye movement stops and brain wave activity slows with short fast bursts, known as sleep spindles.
- Stage 3: You enter deep sleep at this stage. Your body goes through the repairing and restoration process and your brain starts to produce slow delta waves. It is the hardest to wake up during this stage and your body is immobile.
- Stage 4: REM sleep gets its name from your eyes moving quickly behind your eyelids. Brain activity starts to quicken and your heart rate and breathing increase close to the levels when awake. The increased brain activity is the reason why dreaming mostly occurs here. Your limbs and muscles are temporarily paralyzed to prevent you from acting out your dreams
Benefits Of Deep Sleep
As mentioned earlier, deep sleep is when your body heals and regenerates itself. When in deep sleep, your brain’s glucose metabolism is at its most active. That helps improve your short- and long-term memory. It also helps with heightening your learning abilities. Some other benefits of deep sleep include:
- Stimulates hormone production such as growth hormones
- This is why parents encourage their kids to sleep more so they can grow taller
- Restores energy levels
- Promotes cell regeneration
- Increases blood flow to muscles and bones, promoting repair
- A stronger immune system
- Better mood
- Increased focus
How To Get More Deep Sleep By Natural Means
Training your body to learn how to get more deep sleep takes time but very worth it. If you find yourself unable to naturally fall into a deep sleep, there are some ways to trick your body into reaching that stage of deep sleep. Here are some techniques you can try.
First off, the most natural way of getting deep sleep is by lowering the room temperature slightly. Why does this work? Cooling your head slows down the metabolism of the brain’s frontal cortex, which manages important cognitive functions, leading to better sleep. There have been studies where researchers put cooling caps on insomniacs and it helped them to sleep better and faster.
Another reason why this works is that your body temperature drops when entering sleep. Core temperatures drop by as much as 1-2°F during sleep, as a way of saving energy. If the body is on power-saving mode, you eventually fall asleep.
How to get more deep sleep, you ask? According to researchers from Northwestern University, you have to exercise. After exercising four times a week, their subjects report significant sleep improvements. They also exhibit fewer sleep deprivation symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
The human body is built to move, so get off that couch and start moving! Only remember to finish working out several hours before going to bed. If you do it too close to bedtime, your body won’t have enough time to cool down and that will affect your sleep.
Develop a Sleeping Routine and STICK TO IT
The circadian rhythm is the internal “clock” your body follows during sleep and wakefulness. If you feel sleepy or tired at almost the same time every day, that’s your circadian rhythm at work. For normal, healthy people, dips in alertness occur at around 2 to 4 AM when fast asleep, and 1 to 3 PM which is after lunch. Maintaining your circadian rhythm leads to better, deeper sleep. To do that, you have to develop and stick to a sleep routine.
Set a time when you would stop active usage of your senses and alertness. Get off your screens and start getting into bed. If needed, you can try reading a book or listening to slow music to slow down your mind and ease into sleep. Make sure to always go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night. Such a routine maintains your body clock and thus helps promote better, deeper sleep.
Sensitivity to light when sleeping varies from person to person. In general, it’s best if you shut off all the lights and black the room out. Try blackout curtains or blinds to block out any light outside. Avoid using your phone and other devices, as the blue light emitted inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
The eyes have two major cells; rod cells help with seeing in low light areas and situations whereas cone cells allow you to see colors. The third type of cells called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (IPRGC) help set up and maintain your circadian rhythm. To wake your body up, these cells absorb light and alert your brain to prepare it for activity. This is why a dark room can help trick your mind into going to sleep faster.
Use Pink Or White Noise
White noise is categorized by its even, steady frequency. Its consistent rhythm is enough for it to your brain to register it as ambient noise. When that happens, white noise acts as a “blocker” to sudden and jarring sounds that wake you up, thus promoting better sleep.
As for pink noise, it’s a version of white noise at a lower, deeper frequency. We can hear it, but it’s softer than what we’re used to hearing. In fact, Mother Nature is full of pink noise; the sound of rain, rustling leaves, and even a person’s heartbeat are all examples of pink noise. Pink noise can help slow brain waves down, which can result in deeper, more stable sleep.
To find out more about how sound can play a part in sleep quality, check out our article on sleep music.
Getting More Deep Sleep With External Means
For people who can’t keep sleep routines or sleep with the lights off, these are some good alternatives to consider. Keep in mind, however, that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another so try them at your discretion.
Consider Taking A Melatonin Supplement
Your brain produces melatonin to help manage your body’s sleepiness and wakefulness periods. It tells your brain when to relax and go to sleep. However, some people’s bodies don’t produce enough melatonin. As such, doctors use melatonin supplements to treat people with insomnia. They’re so effective that even a 2 mg dose is enough to improve sleep quality and make people fall asleep faster.
If you’re considering melatonin supplements, start with a smaller dose. Work your way up to check your tolerance slowly. If you take too much, it can alter brain chemistry and screw up your body clock altogether. Make sure to get the right dose by consulting with a sleep doctor before use.*
Here are some other supplements that can be good alternatives to melatonin:
- Ginkgo biloba: 250 mg is a typical dosage, taken 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
- Valerian root: take 500 mg before bed
- Lavender: 100 to 200 mg before bed is ideal
- L-theanine (an amino acid): 100 to 200 mg before bed
Go For Familiar Smells
Scents can have a powerful effect on your mind, which is why practices like aromatherapy are so popular and effective. According to scent expert Dr. Pamela Dalton, any smell that’s out of the ordinary can disrupt your sleep. Smelling something new (even scents touted to be “relaxing” or “calming”) can over-stimulate your brain and senses, keeping you awake.
As such, go for smells that make you comfortable and are familiar to you. For instance, if you love how your partner smells, cuddle close with them as you sleep. Your brain will soon associate these scents with “sleeping time” and ease into deep sleep better.
Watch Out For Sneaky Caffeine Doses
If you want to get more deep sleep, it’s best to avoid caffeine. Avoid drinking coffee or tea too close to bedtime. Sodas, energy drinks/bars, certain supplements, and even chocolate can contain caffeine as well so make sure to check the ingredients list.
If you take medication like painkillers before bed, check the label. Some pain-killing medications use caffeine as a way of “forcing” your body to numb the pain. Some prescriptions could contain as much caffeine as two cups of coffee. Check with your doctor if they can prescribe you any caffeine-free alternatives.
Hog The Bed
If you share the bed with a partner or with your pets, it could disrupt sleep. The constant movement in bed will only keep you tossing and turning longer. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider changing your sleeping arrangements.
The same goes for your furry friends. It might be nice to have your pets snuggle in with you at night but they tend to move around a lot more in their sleep. If that causes you to constantly wake up in the middle of the night, maybe it’s time for your pets to get their bed.
Give Your Feet A Treat
Ease your sleep troubles by soaking your feet before bed. To improve the effect, you can also add bath oils in the water or massage your feet after the bath. A cooler core body temperature helps you sleep faster but if you suffer from cold feet, it might help to try a warm foot bath to balance out your temperature. This is especially effective in the winter months.
Other sources claim that a cold foot bath is good for sleep too. This soothes the nerve endings in your feet and helps you relax. Different studies have shown effective results for both warm and cool foot baths so try them out and see which works best for you. Always remember to dry your feet well after.
Soak Up Bright Light in the Day
As mentioned earlier, managing your body clock is the most effective way of improving sleep. One way of doing that is soaking up as much light as you can during the day. Doing so reinforces your circadian rhythm and keeps it from going all over the place.
For this to work, you have to limit your light exposure at night as well. When it’s getting close to your scheduled bedtime, start to dim the lights. This trains your body to associate light with waking hours and darkness with sleeping time.
Everybody needs enough sleep; it’s recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep. This allows you to get enough deep sleep to leave you feeling refreshed the next morning. These tips can help enjoy restful sleep every night.