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Deep sleep: How to get more deep sleep and why it matters

BY Martin Seeley

22nd Mar 2023 Wellbeing

Deep sleep: How to get more deep sleep and why it matters
Getting enough deep sleep is essential for both your mental and physical health. Sleep expert Martin Seeley shares how to increase deep sleep each night
Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep or stage 3 of non-REM sleep, is an important stage of the sleep cycle that provides many benefits to the body and brain.
Many people do not reach that all important REM sleep stage, and if they do, it's usually for an insufficient amount of time. 
Not reaching deep sleep comes down to a number of internal and external reasons, yet this is worrying especially since research has found that we need a good amount of deep sleep to keep our immune system strong.
"We need a good amount of deep sleep to keep our immune system strong"
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep and spends ten to 15 per cent of it in deep sleep.
Here, Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO of MattressNextDay, reveals the importance of deep sleep, and how you can help yourself reach it.

Below are the key benefits to getting enough deep sleep:

Deep sleep has an important role to play in regulating our mood, cognitive function and immune system

Physical restoration

During deep sleep, the body produces a growth hormone, which helps repair and regenerate tissues, muscles, and bones. This is important for overall physical health and recovery from injury or illness.

Cognitive consolidation

Deep sleep is important for consolidating memories and learning new information. It helps the brain transfer information from short-term to long-term memory and strengthens neural connections, which improves cognitive function and performance.

Hormone regulation

Deep sleep helps regulate the body's hormones, including those that control appetite, metabolism, and stress. Getting enough deep sleep can help prevent hormone imbalances and associated health problems.

Immune system support

Deep sleep is important for the immune system, as it helps produce cytokines, which are proteins that fight infection, inflammation, and stress.

Emotional regulation

Deep sleep plays a role in regulating emotions, mood, and behaviour. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, and promotes a more positive outlook on life.

How can I get a deeper sleep?

Create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you get more deep sleep
  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Develop a calming routine before bed to help your body and mind relax. This could include taking a warm bath, practising relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing, or reading a book.
  • Use lavender essential oilLavender has calming and soothing properties and can help promote relaxation and deep sleep. You can use lavender essential oil by diffusing it in your bedroom or adding a few drops to your bathwater.
  • Make your bedroom conducive to sleep: Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow, and use comfortable, breathable bedding.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with your sleep, so avoid drinking them in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise during the day can help improve the quality of your sleep at night. However, it's important to avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime.
  • Try weighted blanketsWeighted blankets provide gentle pressure that can help promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety. This can help improve the quality of your sleep and increase the amount of deep sleep you get.
  • Sleep in a hammock: Research has shown that swaying in a hammock can help people fall asleep faster and experience deeper sleep. This may be due to the rhythmic movement that simulates being rocked to sleep.
  • Limit screen time before bed: The blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with your sleep. Try to avoid using devices for at least an hour before bed.
  • Practice sleep meditationSleep meditation involves focusing on your breath and relaxing your body to help calm your mind and fall asleep faster. There are many guided sleep meditations available online that can help you get started.
  • Manage stressStress can interfere with your sleep. Find ways to manage stress throughout the day, such as exercise, meditation, or talking with a friend or therapist.
It's important to understand that while these methods may be helpful for some people, they may not work for everyone, it’s also important to prioritise good sleep habits.  If you're having trouble sleeping, it's important to talk to your GP.
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