Experiencing poor sleep can really throw off your entire day. Your eyelids feel heavy, napping sounds wonderful, and completing tasks feels like you’re moving through molasses – everything is slow and difficult. What you’re experiencing could be a lack of deep sleep, an important stage of sleep our bodies need to feel productive, energized and focused. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Around 37.9% of adults report falling asleep at work in the last 30 days. Read on to learn how to get more deep sleep to take on the days ahead.
What Is ‘Deep Sleep’?
There are four stages of sleep that serve specific functions we need to feel our best. The first is non-rapid eye movement (NREM) which contains three cycles, and the last is rapid eye movement. Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, is the repairing sleep cycle that occurs during the third stage of NREM. During this stage, electrical brain activity produces slow waves, and your heart rate and breathing decrease.
When you enter this stage, you are less likely to wake up, and if you do, you will feel groggier and experience the half-asleep feeling. It is also through deep sleep that your body receives several benefits, physically and mentally. For example, your body heals more effectively, and your memory strengthens.
While deep sleep is critical to feeling rested, many of us struggle to enter the deep cycles we need.
10 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Deep Sleep
Not getting enough deep sleep is more than an inconvenience, it causes a slew of unfortunate symptoms that can disrupt your work productivity, motivation, and overall ability to enjoy your day.
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Heavy eye lids
- Decreased motivation
- Short fuse
- Low sex drive
- Increased desire to nap
- Trouble waking up
4 Reasons You’re Not Getting Enough Deep Sleep
If you’re experiencing a consistent lack of deep sleep, there are a few reasons that may serve as an explanation;
- Stress. Anxiety and poor sleep work hand in hand. You may stress about not sleeping and toss and turn more as a result. And if your anxiety is high, you may experience trouble sleeping.
- Sleep disorders. Sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome can all disrupt your ability to receive deep sleep.
- Substance abuse/withdrawal. Several substances may reduce deep sleep, including opioid medications, caffeine, and even a few antidepressants.
- Age. As we get older, we’re less likely to receive deep sleep.
How to Get More Deep Sleep Naturally
1. Modify your diet
Your daily habits like your diet can have a significant impact on your ability to drift off to sleep faster and more deeply. For example, eliminate any stimulants such as coffee, alcohol or sugar several hours before bed. Additionally, lighter meals at dinner can also make it easier to snooze quicker.
2. Prime your mind
You may not realize it, but your internal dialogue can impact your ability to receive deep sleep. Catastrophic thinking and anxiety can both keep your thoughts running on repeat and your energy levels high. Therefore, it is exceedingly important to limit your stress and prime your mind for rest. In fact, bedtime yoga, journaling, and meditation before bed can give you a positive outlet to decompress, destress, and relax. Try any of these techniques or a combination of several to determine which method works best for you.
3. Remove the light
It may be tempting to fall asleep to a movie or even scroll on social media, but light before bed tells your brain to stay awake. As much as possible, try limiting any screen time to keep you relaxed and adjusted to a dark room before dozing off. Even a small amount of light from a tablet can disrupt your melatonin levels (a hormone needed for deep sleep).
4. Take a warm bath
A warm bath or shower at least one hour before bed not only reduces your stress levels but can also increase slow-wave sleep. Research shows the warmth from the bath stimulates heat to your hands and feet, which reduces your core body temperature and helps you prepare for a perfect cozy rest.
5. Move your body
There is growing research to suggest that exercise can increase your chances of receiving deep sleep. For example, moderate cardio increases your slow brain waves, boosts your mood, and reduces anxiety. However, make sure you finish your workout several hours before your designated bedtime as it can provide the reverse effect.
6. Prepare in advance
One of the most important tips you can practice to ensure you receive deep sleep is to prepare in advance. Chances are, your work schedule, lifestyle, or habits may not support your need for a deeper sleep. We often deprive ourselves of adequate sleep, believing we can operate on fewer hours than necessary. However, it is critical for your long-term health to receive at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night. But don’t try to transform into an early bird if you’re a night owl or vice versa. Instead, try going to bed an hour earlier each night to improve your chances of receiving deeper sleep. Start small and give yourself space to work on sleeping better.
7. Stick to a schedule
This tip for how to get more deep sleep may seem obvious, but it is effective. When you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, you limit the amount of time you spend tossing and turning before falling asleep. Even on the weekends and your days off, try to hit a consistent snooze time. While plans and life may get in the way, your body will thank you during the week.
8. Bed is for sleeping
You may want to lounge in your pajamas all day and work from your bed, but it’s better to designate separate areas for work and sleep. When you do so, you train your brain to associate your bed with deep sleep. This cognitive trick also helps, in reverse, with increased productivity in designated work areas. Additionally, any stressful activities completed in your bedroom, including work can increase your cortisol levels, making you more alert than usual.
Learning how to get more deep sleep is a game-changer and will make your day-to-day life more pleasant, productive, and enjoyable. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s worth making a few adjustments and using any of these tips to help you feel your best, both physically and emotionally.
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