Most people know that they should sleep between seven to nine hours per night, but many people don’t get that much. In fact, a lot of people pride themselves for their ability to function daily while only running on five hours of sleep. The truth is that shortchanging sleep has a negative impact on overall health.
According to many health experts, sleep is a necessity for optimal health. It’s not a luxury; rather, sleep helps to trigger the release of hormones that regulate energy, mental acuity, and mood. In order for the brain to do this, it requires about seven or eight hours of sleep. The less sleep you get, the more your concentration, mood regulation, creativity, and productivity will suffer.
How Does Sleep Work?
It seems simple enough, right? You lay down, close your eyes, drift away into sleep, and then wake up in the morning. Sleep is divided into four-stage cycles, and sleep studies have identified that the third and fourth stages are when you experience deep sleep. During deep sleep, brain and body activity drop to their lowest points, and blood redirects from the brain to the muscles. The fourth stage of sleep is the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, during which dreaming occurs. During a full night of sleep, a person should experience three or four cycles, each lasting about 60-90 minutes.
What Is Deep Sleep?
When a person is in deep sleep, it is difficult for them to be woken up. Deep sleep also happens to occur in longer periods during the first part of the night. Heart rate slows and breathing is heavy, indicating the relaxation of muscles and eyes. Additionally, brain waves slow down during deep sleep.
Although a person requires all stages of sleep for optimal health, deep sleep is especially important for the brain. Deep sleep allows the brain to create and store new memories, improving the ability to recall and collect information. In addition to allowing the brain to replenish energy for the next day, deep sleep also plays a role in hormonal balance. The pituitary gland secretes human growth hormone during deep sleep, helping the body regenerate cells and encourage cell growth.
The Benefits Of Deep Sleep
During deep sleep, glucose metabolism in the brain increases. This helps support both short-term and long-term memory. Some sleep studies found that deep sleep also plays a role in helping your immune system function properly. It’s also possible to experience the following benefits during deep sleep:
- Cell regeneration
- Promoting growth and repair of tissues and bones
- Energy restoration
- Increasing blood supply to muscles
How To Get More Deep Sleep
It’s possible that a person can increase the amount of deep sleep they get every night. In order to do this, the American Sleep Association notes that a person should allot more time for sleep every night. Going to bed earlier can help the body go through more sleep cycles, increasing the amount of deep sleep you get.
Unfortunately, there are many bad habits that can make it difficult for people to go to sleep. In order to promote better sleep, not just deep sleep, it’s beneficial to engage in vigorous exercises like swimming, jogging, or running. Sleep doctors recommend that people do these exercises earlier in the day, as opposed to before bedtime. Diet also plays a role when it comes to sleep health. Eating fewer carbohydrates and focusing on more healthy fats may increase your chances of experiencing more deep sleep. Lastly, pink noise may increase the effectiveness of deep sleep.
Pink noise is random noise that has lower-frequency components than white noise. One study monitored the effects of using sound stimulation, like pink noise, on deep sleep. The results indicated that listening to these sounds may enhance the state of deep sleep, leading to better memory and cognition after waking up.