Also known as slow-wave sleep, deep sleep is a sleep stage that is associated with the slowest brain waves during sleep. Deep sleep produces slow waves with a relatively high amplitude and a frequency of less than 1 Hz. In contrast with Rapid Eye Movement sleep, the main characteristics of slow-wave sleep are absent or slow eye movement, moderate muscle tone, and lack of genital activity.
Normal sleep, during which brain activity remains high, is made up of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. NREM and REM sleep alternate in each of the 4-5 cycles during an eight-hour sleep period. Each cycle consists of NREM sleep followed by REM sleep and roughly lasts 90-110 minutes. NREM sleep has three stages, Stage 3 being deep sleep. Deep sleep, which makes up at least 20 percent of a person’s total sleep time, occurs mostly in the first third of the night.
Why Is Deep Sleep Important?
It is important for the consolidation of new memories and is often referred to as sleep-dependent memory processing. This stage of sleep also helps the brain rest and recover from a day of thinking, allowing it to replenish energy in the form of glucose for the next day.
There are more benefits of this kind of sleep and they include:
- energy restoration
- cell regeneration
- increasing blood supply to muscles
- promoting growth and repair of tissues and bones
- strengthening the immune system
How To Get More Slow-Wave Sleep
The most important thing that you can do to increase your amount of slow-wave sleep is to allow yourself adequate total sleep time. Often, individuals will deprive themselves of adequate total sleep. In addition to reducing deep sleep, REM sleep is also shortened.
There is some data to suggest that vigorous exercise and body heating, such as immersion in a sauna or hot tub can increase or consolidate deep sleep.
What are the other ways how to increase the length of deep sleep and improve your rest and brain and body recovery?
- Work out daily
- Avoid caffeine 4+ hours before bed
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
- Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary
- Eat fewer carbs
Have a good night’s sleep!
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” — Irish Proverb
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