Deep Sleep: Definition, Benefits and How to Get It

Evidence Based Article 📄
This article has been based on relevant and up-to-date scientific studies. Our writers are unbiased and objective and present the facts as they are known. Numbers in brackets within the article refer to sources included in the reference list at the end of the article.

The mysterious state of deep sleep is still the subject of many studies. While other stages of the sleep cycle are a little bit explained, a stage of deep sleep requires more explanation.

Today, we’re going to discover the nature and the power of deep sleep and how you can get it. First things first, though. Let’s start with the sleep stages.

What are the sleep stages?

There are two types of sleep, such as non-REM sleep and REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement sleep. When you fall asleep, you experience non-REM sleep in the beginning and then a short REM sleep.

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This cycle repeats almost each one and a half hours and you tend to experience deep sleep in the last stage of non-REM sleep.

There are 4 stages ✅ of non-REM sleep. When you’re slowly transitioning from being awake to falling asleep, you’re experiencing the first stage of non-REM sleep. During this stage, the waves of your brain become less active, your muscles relax, and the functions of your body, including eye movements, breath, and heartbeat begin to slow.

The second stage of non-REM sleep takes nearly 50% of the entire sleep cycle since it’s possible to experience this stage several times per night. During this stage, the waves of your brain get slower yet you feel a slight activity, your eyes stop moving, the temperature of your core lowers, and the systems of your body get slower and more relaxed.

Known as delta sleep or slow wave sleep (SWS), deep sleep occurs on the 3rd and 4th stages of non-REM sleep. During these two stages, even loud noises can’t awake you, the waves of your brain get as slowest as possible during sleep. Your muscles become highly relaxed and your breathing and heartbeat become slow and calm.

You can experience the first stage of deep sleep for about 45 to 90 minutes – or longer, if you go to bed early because deep sleep at the beginning of the night can last for up to 90 minutes.

REM sleep occurs on the 5th stage of sleep that lasts for nearly 90 minutes after 4 stages of sleep. During this stage of sleep, your breathing gets faster and sometimes irregular, your heartbeat increases, your brain activity improves, your eyes start moving from side to side, and in some cases, your limbs can get paralyzed.

What’s deep sleep?

As mentioned above, deep sleep happens in the third stage of non-REM sleep. The brain waves during this stage are defined as delta waves because of the increased amplitude and reduced speed. Deep sleep is considered as the most healing and restorative among other sleep stages. The perk of this sleep stage is that no external stimuli can affect deep sleep.

It might be extremely hard to wake you from deep sleep. In case of sleep deprivation, you can face extensive time during the third stage of sleep. There’s a high chance of parasomnias during deep sleep. Sleep talking, sleepwalking, bedwetting, and night terrors all happen during the third stage of sleep.

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Your growth hormone is produced and restores your muscles and body from the daily stresses during deep sleep. The immunity restores itself during deep sleep, as well. Some random studies suggest that the brain can refresh and restore itself too, making it easier to grab new information during the day.

How much deep sleep should you get each night?

As you age, you tend to receive less and less deep sleep. There are many reasons for it. Some experts believe it happens due to stress and diseases while others suggest that a release of the growth hormones stops as you get older and thus there’s no particular need for getting deep sleep.

However, it’s critical to ensure that you get enough deep sleep as it can negatively affect your well-being in the long run. Deep sleep is essential for the whole body repair and the energy growth for the next day. People who get enough deep sleep feel a lot more rejuvenated after deep sleep than those who a deep sleep deprived.

In fact, there are no proven requirements for deep sleep. It’s suggested that young people need more hours of deep sleep as it enhances development and growth. For instance, if you’re under the age of 30, it’s recommended to get at least 2 hours of deep sleep per night.

Older individuals also need quality deep sleep, albeit not getting enough sleep during this stage is less likely to cause sleep disorders. If you’re over the age of 60, you may get only 30 minutes of deep sleep per night. In some cases, older people get no deep sleep at all.

Why is deep sleep essential?

Perhaps, the most crucial part of the night sleep cycle, deep sleep helps your body to repair itself and preserve energy and mood for the next day. Deep sleep also involves the tissue repair and the whole body detoxification.  The American Sleep Association has linked deep sleep to certain sleep disorders, including sleepwalking.

The majority of the body cells have a slow production and lowered protein breakdown during deep sleep. Proteins are considered as building blocks and they are required for cell growth and repair of harmful factors, including ultraviolet rays and stress. Therefore, deep sleep can easily be the beauty sleep.

During deep sleep, activity in the brain area that manages emotions reduces, and control the social interactions and decision-making processes appear. Experts claim that deep sleep may help us to control social functioning and optimal emotional.

What are the consequences of deep sleep deprivation?

There are many reasons why people experience deep sleep deprivation and, in most cases, insomnia is to blame. Your brain suffers more when you don’t get enough deep sleep, as this sleep stage is vital for processing the information you receive throughout the day.

In case you don’t get enough deep sleep, your brain might fail ✅ to convert that information you receive to the memory. Besides sleep eating, bedwetting, night terrors, and sleepwalking, deep sleep deprivation increases your risk of developing stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, among the others.

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What the signs of deep sleep deprivation?

Chronic fatigue is typically the primary sign of deep sleep deprivation, albeit there are some others to consider as well. An increased heart rate and disturbed breathing rate are the signs too.

Nowadays, there are wearable devices that help to determine the stages of sleep and figure out your sleep patterns. You can also do a sleep test, such as polysomnography, which helps to determine whether or not you’re getting enough deep sleep.

What are the benefits of deep sleep?

Sleep itself has more perks than drawbacks, but deep sleep is known for its powerful health benefits. You can experience these benefits only if you get deep sleep on a regular basis. Here’s how deep sleep can boost your overall health:

1.Prevent mood swings

If you wake up in the morning feeling tired, stressed, and irritated, it means you need more deep sleep. Getting enough deep sleep helps to boost your mood and lift your spirit, preventing morning mood swings.

It can also keep you feeling good and refreshed during the day. When you’re sleepy, it’s hard to control your emotions, after all.

2.Keep your stress levels low

We live in a highly busy world where stress seems to become as important as a glass of clear water. We’ve used to feeling stressed out all the time and consider it a norm, without realizing how such a stressful lifestyle can ruin our health.

Not to mention that the high stress levels have been linked with premature aging and death. Getting enough sleep keeps your stress levels low and wards off multiple mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.

3.Increase your energy levels

During the third stage of sleep, the body takes an active part in producing energy from your metabolism.

When you get enough deep sleep, you wake up feeling energized and don’t feel dizzy and sleepy during the day. Even if you don’t get the recommended 8 hours of sleep but you manage to get at least 2 hours of deep sleep, you’ll still have enough energy to tackle your day.

4.Enhance your digestive system

As the digestion tract repairs during deep sleep, your digestive system stays in tip-top shape. If you have any digestive issues, getting enough deep sleep on a daily basis might help you solve those issues.

However, it’s important that you don’t eat before going to bed as it stops the process of the digestion tract repair.

5.Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease occurs when the brain loses its memory function. Deep sleep has a positive impact on the brain function and it aids in improving the memory.

A lack of sleep has been shown ✅ to promote the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, quality sleep can suppress the disease’s development.

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6.Maintain a healthy weight

Sleep deprivation stimulates hunger pangs and cravings, making you eat more and gain unnecessary pounds. Apart from positively affecting the digestive system, deep sleep helps to control your hormones and keep your appetite at bay.

Deep sleep aids in controlling the hormones such as leptin that promotes satiety and ghrelin that increases hunger.

7.Help your brain repair its cells

Deep sleep is essential for your brain and it was said before. But what’s important to understand is that deep sleep helps the brain to repair its cells, which is vital for mental health. When you’re in the third stage of sleep, your body starts producing neurotransmitters and hormones that make your brain stimulate the production of new cells. People suffering from mental disorders should pay attention to this perk of deep sleep.

8.Strengthen your immune system

During deep sleep, the body also stimulates the production of immune cells and antibodies, which are essential in fighting and preventing diseases and conditions. Sleep deprivation ✅ weakens the immune system, particularly if you don’t get enough deep sleep.

9.Keep blood pressure in control

When you’re sleep deprived on a frequent basis, your levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body increase, leading to increased blood pressure.

The blood pressure levels reduce while you’re sleeping. People who suffer from high blood pressure should get enough deep sleep to reduce their risk factor of developing a stroke.

10.Ward off cardiovascular diseases

The healthy heart tends to repair itself during deep sleep. Thus, sleep deprivation affects your heart function, triggering a number of cardiovascular diseases and conditions, including coronary heart disease.

11.Lower your cancer risk

People who don’t get enough deep sleep have an increased risk of developing colon and breast cancer. The hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is believed to fight cancer thanks to its ability to prevent the tumor growth.

How to get deep sleep

Unless you suffer from sleep disorders, it’s possible to get more deep sleep without a doctor.

First of all, remove all the distractions and gadgets from your bedroom. This room should be for sleep only.

Avoid fighting or reading something negative before sleep. Secondly, pay attention to your bedroom temperature. When it’s too cold or too hot in the room during the night, you might have trouble getting deep sleep. The recommended temperature is 60-67F, but you can alter it to suit your needs.

Finally, pay attention to what you put into your body in the evening. Avoid processed foods and drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol.

Also, avoid taking your multivitamin before bed. Many people take a multivitamin before sleep, believing they’ll wake up feeling more alert and energized. It actually prevents you from sleeping well.

Deep sleep is an amazing way to keep your body and mind healthy and help yourself live longer. Besides promoting good physical health, getting enough deep sleep enhances your happiness. If you have any sleep issues, ensure you talk to your doctor asap.