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Health

What Is Deep Sleep And How Much Do You Need?

Tara Youngblood

01.10.20

What Is Deep Sleep And How Much Do You Need?
“What is deep sleep and how much do I need?” is a combo question I hear all the time from our customers. Since Chili’s sleep systems are designed to help you maximize this crucial stage of sleep, it makes sense that it’s a hot topic for us. Defining deep sleep is easy—and we’ll do that in a minute—but how much deep sleep you need is entirely subjective. 

For example, it definitely depends on your age since the amount of deep sleep you get will decline as you get older. When you’re 20 years old, approximately 20% of your sleep is deep sleep. But, by the time you’re 80, it might be 5% or less. 

This all leads to getting as much deep sleep as possible while you can. So today we’ll quickly run down what deep sleep is, how much you should try to get each night, and how our products can help.

Deep Sleep, Defined

There are various ways to describe the stages of sleep, but for the sake of simplifying it we break sleep down this way:

  1. Bedtime
  2. Deep Sleep
  3. REM Sleep

This first stage is fairly simple to understand: “Bedtime” is when you receive signals that it’s time to hit the hay; your body reaches its highest temperature, triggering your “sleep switch.” Melatonin is released, and your body is primed for sleep. Many people ignore this and get a second wind, but those with sleep issues or full-blown insomnia should obey these bedtime signals, ultimately following their chronotype.

Deep sleep then occurs over the first half of the night. So many aspects of your body slow down: your heart rate, your breathing, your blood pressure, and your muscle activity. In addition, your core body temperature will drop to its lowest point during the deep sleep stage. It’s also important to note that this is the most restorative stage of sleep (which we’ll touch on again below).
 
REM sleep happens over the last half of the night. Basically you’re rising out of that “valley” as your core body temperature warms up. What’s interesting about this stage is that some neurons and areas of the brain are as active as they would be if you were awake, while others remain dormant. It’s during REM sleep that you’d be most likely to experience lucid dreams.

How Much Deep Sleep Do I Need?

Now that you have an understanding of the stages, we can discuss how much deep sleep is needed, and it’s fairly straightforward: the ideal amount is two hours. However, how much you get is heavily influenced by your age. Here’s a breakdown from Tuck.com about how much deep sleep different age groups experience:

20 years old: 20% of sleep spent in deep sleep
40–50 years old: 10% of sleep spent in deep sleep
70–80 years old: 5% or less of sleep spent in deep sleep

This drop in deep sleep over time is unfortunate for a couple of reasons: for one it happens because you’re aging, and it’s also a partial cause for some of the negative characteristics associated with aging.

How do you know if you’re getting enough deep sleep? There are the usual telltale signs: waking up feeling tired, tossing and turning during the night, being easily awakened, and even getting up to go to the bathroom. The last one surprises people, but if you’re experiencing true deep sleep a hormone is released that serves as an antidiuretic, ensuring you stay asleep.

Why Is Getting Deep Sleep So Important?

If you want to read one sentence about the importance of deep sleep, let it be this: it helps your body and mind heal. Deep sleep has restorative power for us physically, including cell regeneration, a strengthened immune system, tissue and bone repair, and more. Ultimately, getting enough deep sleep allows you to renew your energy levels to face each and every day.

Deep sleep is obviously associated with cognitive performance, too. Having a sluggish brain is a surefire sign you’re not getting enough deep sleep. Deep sleep is also tied to memory reconciliation; during the day, you don’t organize your memories—this takes place at night while you sleep. If you think about your memories as files on a desk, getting enough deep sleep allows you to determine what memories are important and which aren’t, effectively “clearing” your desk overnight. This means getting deep sleep has a significant impact on both your short-term and long-term memory (which also helps explain why lack of sleep has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease).

How Can I Get More Deep Sleep?

The first step to getting more deep sleep is respecting the stages of sleep. This starts with hitting the sack at the proper bedtime instead of “fighting through it,” whether you’re working or just watching TV. By honoring your inherent sleep schedule, you give yourself a chance to get more deep sleep right off the bat.
 
Of course, our chiliPad or OOLER sleep systems can help create that drop in your body temperature you need to enter or enhance your deep sleep stage. For example, if you use one of our products to warm up at bedtime, you’d want to drop it after about 20 minutes to prepare effectively for deep sleep. 

Since your “sleep switch” typically occurs four hours into your night’s sleep, just set your temperature-regulating sleep system to start warm and slowly get cooler throughout the night. So for example, if you go to bed around 10 pm you’d want peak coolness to be around 2 am; if you go to bed closer to midnight, then it should be around 4 am. Again, all of this is dependent on you respecting your chronotype.

Getting more deep sleep is going to take different methods for different people. We’ve already discussed how age has a serious impact, but each sleeper is inherently unique. That means they may need less deep sleep for restoration than others, or that their temperature needs may differ. As long as you create healthy bedtime habits and keep experimenting, we’re confident you’ll find your deep sleep sweet spot.

Our temperature-regulating sleep systems have the potential to help you get more deep sleep. Compare our chiliPAD and OOLER to see which one would work best for you.