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How to get more deep sleep

Sweet dreams? We share 6 tips on how to get more deep sleep for long-term brain care.

 Dan Murray-Serter
Dan Murray-Serter
Co-Founder
May 12, 2020
3 min read

Sleep is great—most people agree on that. But when we don’t get enough high-quality sleep, the problems can start to mount. In this article we will summarise the best tips for you to get more deep sleep and its research behind it.

Article breakdown

Are we getting enough sleep?

When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep? If the answer is last night, well, good for you.

For many of us though, sleep is a stressful experience. About 1 in 3 people in the UK suffer from poor-quality or lack of sleep. And while insomnia is one aspect of poor sleep (one that I’m particularly familiar with), it’s far from the only one. Other signs that you might not be getting high-quality sleep include:

  • Regularly experiencing things that disturb your sleep—this might include panic attacks, nightmares, or flashbacks.

  • Finding it hard to wake up or get out of bed.

  • Persistent feelings of tiredness or low energy.

  • Excessive sleep.

As a general rule, the NHS recommends roughly eight hours of high-quality sleep a night. Less than that, and we’ll start to feel the effects. These range from tiredness and irritability, to brain fog, low mood, and serious medical problems like obesity and high blood pressure.

Deep non-REM sleep cleans your brain

A new study published by Science Advances indicates that the slow and steady brain activity associated with deep non-REM are optimal for the function of the glymphatic system (the brain’s unique process of getting rid of waste).

Six groups of anaesthetised mice were studied in this research. While they were sleeping, the researchers tracked brain electrical activity, cardiovascular activity, and the flow of CSF through the brain. The mice that had a sleep pattern closely resembling deep non-REM sleep were found to have the most active glymphatic systems.

This is why you can sleep for 9 hours but still feel groggy. It is not about how long you sleep but the quality of sleep. A big part of that is whether or not you get enough deep sleep.

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Benefits of deep sleep

This discovery (that deep sleep promotes the activity of the glymphatic system) matches up with the clinical observations that show an association between sleep deprivation and a heightened risk for Alzheimer’s.

Not only that, deep sleep benefits your immune system, promotes growth and repair of tissues and bones, and even increases your sex drive.

But how to get deeper sleep?

Tips on how to get more deep sleep

I’ve read through more sleep tips than I’d care to count. But of all of them, these are the ones that worked for me.

  1. Power down. Bright lights/screen time at least an hour before bed. Removing this stimulation helps prime your body for its sleep cycle.

  2. Be consistent. Aim for the same hitting-the-sack time, even on weekends. (Although this doesn't mean you should fit your weekday patterns to match your Friday night 2am choice.)

  3. Be cool. The temp of your bedroom matters. According to #science (and my Oura ring), the right median temperature for a body to rest at night is right around 19.5 C.

  4. No big meals or workouts. Too close to bedtime. Gotta keep your digestive systems and cortisol levels in check!

  5. De-stress. Do what you gotta do: meditation, stretching, or lifestyle shifts to remove stress. This guide on meditation is a great place to start.

  6. Vitamins. A deficiency in certain vitamins have shown that it can be harder for your body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin—find out which ones you could be lacking.

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Still sleepy? Sleep scientist Sophie Bostock shares her incredible R.E.S.T method here.

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