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Deep sleep: what is it and how much do you need?

Posted by
Megan Murray
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Struggling to get a good night’s sleep in lockdown? Many of us are. But if you’re yet to understand the benefits of deep sleep and how to get some for yourself, then your sleep could change for the better.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to get a proper night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and on top of your game? We’ve got the opportunity to get more rest than before lockdown started (hello, no early morning commute), but yet, some of us aren’t reaching a restorative level of sleep.

Whether it be that reoccurring feeling of waking up with a foggy head or vivid dreams, there’s a multitude of reasons that your rest could be suffering at the moment – from stress to a lack of physical activity.

Plus, it’s not all about how long you’re snuggled up in bed for, it’s about the quality of rest you’re getting. And deep sleep could be what you’re missing. 

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What is deep sleep?

Also known as delta or slow-wave sleep, this phase of sleep lets your brain completely disengage from your environment as your body and brain waves slow right down. Do you recognise that fuzzy headed feeling, when your eyes just won’t open in the morning? It’s often because the type of sleep you’ve had hasn’t been deep enough, and it’s this kind that actually makes us feel rested.

At this point in your sleep it’s unlikely you’ll be awakened by noises around you, as you brain waves become the absolute slowest they can be while sleeping. Your eye movements will almost completely stop, and your heartbeat and breathing becomes very calm. 

Deep sleep: how much deep sleep do you need?

Why is deep sleep good for me?

Often cited in its primary benefits is that it improves memory function and the ability to learn and retain information, but there are plenty more great things it does for your body too.

For example, during deep sleep is when the pituitary gland secretes the human growth hormone which leads to strengthening and developing your mind and body. This contributes to your cell regeneration, repairing and growing tissue and bones to make you stronger, bolstering your immune system and giving you more energy. 

Why do I need deep sleep?

Similarly to the feeling of waking up in a fog, if you can relate to walking around in a daze all day, this might be because your sleep hasn’t been deep enough. Deep sleep is what helps us process information, feel on top of things and then remember details we’ll need for a later date. 

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How can I get more deep sleep?

There are a few different methods you can try to get more deep sleep. There’s been a lot of buzz around the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray by This Works (19.50), which claims to help users fall asleep faster and make them feel more refreshed when they awake. The mix of lavender, vetivert and camomile is supposed to calm both your mind and body when sprayed on your pillow just before sleep. 

Deep sleep music has also taken off in recent years, which consists of a mix of white noise sounds, ocean waves and meditation. Spotify has a long list of ready-made playlists that you can try.

General sleep tips can also help you have an overall better night’s sleep like going to bed at the same time every night and making sure this is ideally 90 minutes before midnight. It can also help to exhaust yourself both physically and emotionally in the day, making time for (virtual) social interactions even while in lockdown which is a vital part of this.

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Images: Unsplash

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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