Many people these days aren't getting enough deep sleep and it's really affecting their everyday life. Deep sleep and REM sleep are incredibly important for optimal functioning and overall health.
Deep sleep is crucial for physical renewal, hormonal regulation, and growth. You are more likely to get sick, feel depressed, and gain weight without enough deep sleep. In 2008 the National Sleep Foundation did a sleep poll and found that those who sleep less than 6 hours per night are significantly more likely to become obese than those who sleep 8 hours or more a night.
REM sleep is even more important. This is when the brain processes and synthesizes memories and emotions, the activity that is crucial for learning and higher-level thought. With a lack of REM sleep, it will result in slower cognitive and social processing, plus problems with memory and difficulty concentrating. The same 2008 sleep poll as stated above, it was found that people who sleep less than 6 hours per night during the workweek are twice as likely as their better-rested colleagues to report difficulty in concentrating at work.
Here are five easy and simple rules to stick to if you want to get more deep sleep so you can always have optimal performance and better overall health.
1- Try to go to bed around the same time every night.
Most don’t think this is important, but it’s the single most important thing you can do to help you better your sleep. Why do you ask? Simply because sleep is a rhythm. A regular sleep schedule will strengthen and support that rhythm. Keeping your sleep pattern consistent helps your body stay in alignment and find the right cycle night after night. If you get into the habit of going to bed around the same time every night, you will begin to fall asleep more easily, sleep more soundly, and wake feeling more energized and refreshed.
2- No bright lights or screen time at least 1 hour before bed.
I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times by now, but it really is true. Removing any bright light and/or stimulation at least 1 hour before bed will help you tremendously in falling asleep faster and getting the deep sleep you really need every night. We know it seems difficult in this day in time, where everyone seems to be addicted to their screens, but no phone, tablet, computer or TV before bed to help your body prepare for its sleep cycle. Try it for one week and see how much better you’ll sleep!
3- Optimal Bedroom Temperature.
One of the biggest sleep disruptors is overheating. Some people might like it warm others might like it cooler. Research shows that the right median temperature for a body to rest at night is around 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Set your thermostat before you get in bed, choose a lighter blanket and PJs, or simply just use a fan. Whatever you can to find that sweet spot temperature for a good night’s rest.
4- No Caffeine after 2 o’clock.
For some, caffeine has a stronger effect on some than others. A good rule of thumb for everyone though is to stop consuming caffeine after 2 PM because regular and heavy caffeine consumption contributes to disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue. The fact is that caffeine metabolizes slowly. It can take between 6 to 8 hours to reduce the stimulant effect and the long-lasting effects of caffeine are highly disruptive to sleep. And for those of you that think you can have a cup of coffee after dinner and still sleep. More than likely you are just so sleep deprived that you’re crashing. The presence of caffeine in your system will disrupt your melatonin levels and will interfere with sleep quality. This is lowering the time that you spend in deep sleep and your REM cycle, even though it’s not preventing you from falling asleep.
5- Relax and de-stress.
Always easier said than done of course, but if you can get a relaxing bedtime routine it can improve your deep sleep more than you would think. First off, as stated above, no screen time. Especially social media. Not only will the blue light of the screen disrupt your sleep, but some of the content on your social media can as well. You’ll spend the minutes right before you go to sleep worried or thinking about the crazy thing your Facebook friend just posted, instead of relaxing your body and mind. Try to reduce your stress with the help of meditation or stretching. Aromatherapy is wonderful at helping you relax. Just calm your mind and body so that you can give yourself a higher chance at a better night’s rest and deeper sleep.