It’s widely accepted that we sleep less as we get older, but do we know what we’re missing out on when we sleep less?
According to a sleep study by Fitbit, as well as our total length of sleep reducing, so does the percentage of deep sleep that we get.
What is deep sleep?
Deep sleep, also referred to as slow-wave sleep, is the most restorative sleeping stage we experience whilst asleep. It usually makes up around 13 to 23% percent of our total time sleep.
This is the stage of sleep where we’re at our most relaxed. Our breathing and heart rate have slowed, and we find it most difficult to awaken. You can usually tell when you’ve been woken whilst in the deep sleep stage as you’re more likely to feel groggy and need a little longer to come around.
The deep sleep stages occur most frequently in the first half of our sleep. It’s suggested that this is because the body prioritises deep sleep to give us the greatest opportunity to experience the restorative properties of the deep sleep stage.
How does it benefit us?
After roughly 16 hours of being awake, both our minds and bodies are ready for some rest. Each of the different sleep stages are designed to provide us with the necessary recovery needed ready to start again in the morning.
The deep sleep stage is when our bodies work to repair and grow, not just our muscles and organs but our nervous and immune systems too. If you’re frequently waking up after a full night sleep still tired, it’s possible you’re not getting enough deep sleep.
What happens when we don’t get enough deep sleep?
When we don’t get enough deep sleep, not only do our bodies miss out on the all-important recovery benefits, but our brains may also struggle to process our experiences from the day before into memories.
There are even suggestions that link a lack of deep sleep to potential mental health issues, as well as diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
How can we get more deep sleep?
So not that we know how important deep sleep is, what we can we do to make sure we’re getting enough?
Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way of increasing the amount of time we spend in the deep sleep stage. What we can do however, is to try to increase and improve our overall sleep.
Here’s a few tips:
- Stick to a routine, even on the weekend!
- Turn your bedroom into a relaxing, stress-free zone
- Being active during the day can help to encourage our body into recovery. As little as 20 minutes a day can make a huge difference, not just to your sleep but your overall health - just try not to exercise too close to bedtime or you may find it difficult to relax
- We’re all different. Spending some time finding your optimal sleeping conditions can help you on those days when it comes bedtime but you’re not feeling tired. Adjustable beds such as the Hugel Edel have intelligent memory features allowing you to adjust the mattress to your favourite sleeping positions at the touch of a button.
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