How to Get More Deep Sleep

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
March 1, 2023
min read

If you feel like you never get enough sleep. It is more common than you think and there may be a reason for it.

There are a variety of things you can do to get more deep sleep to feel rested each day.  Even though you may be sleeping, you may not be getting the amount of deep sleep that you need to restore your mind and body. Keep reading to learn about key things to know when trying to get a more deep sleep.

6 Tips to Get More Deep Sleep

tips to get more deep sleep

A restless night or two may throw you off. But a pattern of sleep deprivation can cause health problems. Even if you’re getting the suggested seven to nine hours of sleep per night, you could find out how to get more deep sleep. During the deepest stage of sleep, your body and brain revitalize and promote better health, learning, and memory. 

Here are some helpful tips to help you sleep deeply each night:

1. Have a Bedtime Routine

Your body has an internal clock, known as its circadian rhythm, that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Many factors can disrupt your circadian rhythm and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.

But you can establish a sleep schedule that trains your mind and body to stay in rhythm. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each night. Keep these sleep patterns consistent, even on weekends and vacations.

2. Exercise

Research shows that people who do cardio regularly get more deep sleep during the night. Experiment with an exercise schedule to see what works best for you. 

3. Avoid Caffeine 

Avoid caffeine in the evenings. Caffeine can reduce sleep quality, especially when taken in the evening around bedtime.

Learn more about caffeine and sleep

4. Avoid Electronics Before Bed

Avoid watching TV or using laptops, computers, tablets, and phones near bedtime.

Electronics emit artificial blue light that has short wavelengths. During the day, blue light creates more alertness and energy, but it can be overstimulating at night. Plus, blue light can disrupt your circadian rhythm and diminish melatonin production. Being mindful of your electronic use is critical if you want to sleep more deeply.

Learn more about how electronics affect sleep.

5. Know Your Ideal Sleep Temperature

Although comfort levels vary, most adults sleep well if the temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees. Set yourself up for success by making your bedroom the ideal sleeping temperature.

6. Get A Good Quality Mattress And Pillow

What mattresses are best? Find a mattress that is breathable, supportive and pressure-relieving that can adapt to your body and sleep positioning. Look for mattresses that alleviate pressure on your back, hips, and shoulders. Seek out a mattress with good airflow that helps you stay cool even on hot nights.

Understanding The Stages of Sleep

You may have heard of REM sleep, which is when vivid dreams occur. REM stands for “rapid eye movement.” There are three non-REM (NREM) sleep cycle stages as well.

While sleeping, we journey through each of these sleep phases. We begin with stage 1 sleep, then pass through stages 2 and 3. However, we don’t go from stage 3 sleep to REM sleep. Instead, we actually go back through stage 2 and stage 1 before finally entering the REM sleep phase.

Each sleep cycle takes between 90 and 110 minutes, and we go through several sleep cycles each night.

Stage 1 NREM Sleep

Stage 1 is the transition between sleep and wakefulness. At this stage, sleep is very light. Your body starts to relax and prepare you for the next sleep stage. Your eyes move slowly, and your body may experience some mild jerks or spasms. When drifting in and out of this stage of sleep, you can have a falling sensation.

If you wake from stage 1 sleep, you may feel like you haven’t even been asleep. Noises or disruptions can easily rouse you during the light sleep of stage 1.

Stage 2 NREM Sleep

Typically, most people spend 40% to 60% of their total sleep time in stage 2 sleep. During stage 2, frequent awakenings are less common. Your brain waves slow down as you relax into a deeper stage of sleep. 

According to sleep researchers, two types of brain waves mark Stage 2 sleep: K complexes and sleep spindles.

What is a K complex? It is a large wave that can occur in response to stimuli, such as noises in your sleep environment. Spindles are brief bursts of brain activity that decline rapidly. Research suggests that sleep spindles help refresh our brains and make us more ready to learn.

Stage 3 NREM Sleep

Stage 3 is when our deepest, most restorative slow-wave sleep occurs. At this stage, our brain waves — called delta waves — are very slow. It’s difficult to awaken someone from stage 3 sleep.

Overall, we spend far less time in stage 3 sleep than in stage 2. For most adults, stage 3 is between 5% to 15% of our total sleep time. Children and adolescents typically spend more time sleeping in stage 3.

Although we only need a small amount of deep stage 3 sleep waves, this phase of sleep is critical for good health. Once you start to practice good sleep habits, you can start to increase how much deep sleep you get each night.

REM Sleep

What is REM sleep? REM is an active sleep state when dreams occur. Often, if you wake during REM sleep, you will remember your dreams. Researchers have found that everyone dreams, although not everyone remembers dreaming.

During REM sleep, muscle paralysis occurs. Sleep experts speculate that this paralysis happens to prevent people from acting out their dreams. Respiration, body temperature, and heart rate may become irregular during REM sleep.

What Is Deep Sleep?

Deep sleep is known scientifically as slow-wave sleep. This type of sleep only happens in your third stage of non-rapid eye movement sleep or NREM sleep. When you’re in a deep sleep state, your brain's electrical activity slows down to a 0.5 to 2-hertz frequency known as delta waves.

Deep sleep usually happens within about an hour after you first fall asleep, provided you don’t experience any interruptions to your regular sleeping pattern. Your first period of deep sleep is the longest, and you experience shorter and shorter deep sleep periods the longer you stay asleep.

While you’re sleeping deeply, your heart rate and breathing slow, and your muscles start to relax. This is typically the stage where you’re hardest to wake up. If you do happen to wake up during a deep sleep cycle, you can experience grogginess and mental fog while your brain tries to return to normal function.

What Are The Benefits Of Deep Sleep?

The benefits of deep sleep stem are increased focus and memory retention, a healthier immune system, and replenished energy stores, to name a few. Deep sleep is characterized by the delta waves that activate when you’re deep in non-REM sleep.

Growth: Deep sleep is the most restorative type of sleep, as it’s when your body recharges physically and mentally. While in a deep sleep stage, your body releases human growth hormone, which is what your body uses to build and maintain the tissue in your muscles, bones, brain, and soft tissue. This also helps boost your immune system function.

Memory & Learning: While your body is recharging and repairing itself during deep sleep, so is your brain. Deep sleep delta waves help reinforce your neural pathways, leading to better memory and cognitive ability. Deep sleep also improves your brain’s language centers and motor skill pathways and is very important in the development of young brains.

Your brain is constantly processing thousands upon thousands of little points of information daily, whether consciously or unconsciously. Deep sleep helps your brain efficiently organize and recall information that you take in during your waking hours.

Recovery: Elite athletes make sure they get enough deep sleep not only for its role in repairing damaged muscles and tissue but also because deep sleep has been shown to regulate metabolism and replenish lost energy.

Mood: Because deep sleep has been linked to better brain function, it is also known to affect your mood, appetite, and libido. After a good night’s sleep, you may notice that you feel more refreshed, with higher energy levels and a better appetite for your first meal of the day. 

The recommended time for restful, restorative sleep is eight to ten hours of sleep, with about 13% to 23% of it spent in deep sleep.

What Happens if You Don't Get Enough Deep Sleep?

If you don’t get enough deep sleep, you may feel bodily and mental fatigue when you wake up. This may also impact hormonal changeslower immune function, and appetite

Over a long period of time, people are at risk of other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

However, missing a night of deep sleep isn’t the end of the world. If you’re able to catch up on sleep, your body can reverse some of the negative effects.

Signs You May Not Be Getting Enough Deep Sleep

Sleep deprivation is no joke, and a lack of deep sleep can leave you with both physical and mental side effects. Here are a few signs that you’re not getting enough deep sleep: 

You Feel Sluggish And Tired

One of the biggest signs that you’re not getting enough deep sleep is an overwhelming feeling of fatigue and exhaustion upon waking up. Deep sleep allows the brain to rest and process the information you’ve gathered during the day. If you don’t have enough deep sleep, your brain will be working overtime behind the scenes while your conscious mind struggles to keep up.

 You Experience Acne Breakouts

Deep sleep controls the optimal release of hormones in your body and not enough of it can cause an overdose of certain hormones, which can lead to spontaneous acne breakouts.

You Feel ill

Your immune system relies on deep sleep, so you may be more prone to various health issues without enough of it. You can put yourself at a higher risk of catching a disease like the flu or other viruses.

You Crave High-Calorie Food

A lack of deep sleep throws the balance of ghrelin and leptin (the hormones that control your hunger and appetite) into chaos. If you’re sleep-deprived, you might notice that you crave junk food more than usual, and you might even feel the urge to eat more than you usually do.

Your Eyes Don’t Look Great

If you don’t get enough shut-eye, your eyes will show it. Deep sleep repairs many of your body’s soft tissues, and too little of it can leave you with eyebags, dark circles, redness, or puffiness around your peepers. In the long term, you can also develop wrinkles, swelling, droopiness, and lines around your eyes if you don’t get enough rest.

You Experience Focus And Memory Trouble

When you’re in a deep sleep cycle, your brain organizes and declutters your short-term memory centers. When you don’t get enough deep sleep, your short-term memory centers don’t get the chance to process all the stored information and can be overloaded when you wake up. This leads to an inability to focus and forgetfulness.

You Consume More Caffeine

If your usual cup of joe doesn’t do it for you, you may be lacking sleep. An extra shot of caffeine to start your day is a short-term solution with long-term side effects. Upping your caffeine dosage to match your sleep-deprived state can lead to anxiety and insomnia down the road.

You Feel Irritable Or Depressed

Deep sleep offers your mind a chance to decompress and relieve stress. Studies show that deep sleep helps with your mood. If you deprive your brain of deep sleep, you can feel irritable and prone to outbursts and mood swings. 

You can also feel depressed, which can lead to insomnia, which makes you feel depressed, ad infinitum. Getting enough deep sleep is linked with keeping you happy and more emotionally stable.

Sleep Disorders Associated With Deep Sleep

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has a term for sleep disorders linked to deep sleep: disorders of arousal. These specific sleep disorders include sleep terrors, confusional arousal, and sleepwalking. Some rarer instances involve sleep-related sexual behaviors and eating disorders. 

Key Takeaways

Deep sleep is the most important part of your sleep cycle. During deep sleep, your brain waves slow down into delta waves, and your body is able to repair and regenerate muscle, bone, and soft tissue. Some of your key hormones are also timed to release during deep sleep, helping you regulate your metabolism and restore your energy levels for the day.

Here at Purple we know how imortant sleep is. So we design products for the purpose of helping people sleep better and have a healthier life. Checkout out some of our most popular sleep products. Mattresses, pillows and bed sheets

Deep Sleep FAQs

What causes a lack of deep sleep?

Deep sleep can be caused by a variety of conditions, one of the biggest causes is insomnia. This, in itself, can be caused by a myriad of other things, including stress, depression, anxiety, bad sleep habits, abnormal circadian rhythm, and even certain medications.

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, snoring, night terrors, and sleepwalking can also cause a lack of deep sleep. Sleepwalking and night terrors specifically are disorders of arousal that are directly linked to deep sleep and can adversely affect the amount of deep sleep your body actually gets.

How can I sleep deeper naturally?

You can sleep deeper naturally by developing a consistent sleep routine and following it to the letter every day. If you smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine, or consume a lot of sugar, you might consider tapering these things off to get a better night’s sleep.

Finding your ideal sleep temperature and keeping your room dark before bedtime will help your body naturally become sleepy. 

Which food is good for deep sleep?

There are a few natural foods that are good for getting deep sleep, such as almonds, walnuts, white rice, kiwis, chamomile or passionflower tea, turkey, tart cherries and their juice, fatty fish, and malted milk.