How Much Deep Sleep Do You Need? - Tips For Getting More
Adults need an average of 84-108 minutes of deep sleep each night. This makes up roughly 25% of total sleeping time in adults, though the percentage increases for babies and decreases for people over 65 years old. Failure to get adequate deep sleep can result in short and long-term health problems.
Deep sleep makes up about 25% of a healthy adult’s total sleeping time, or 84-108 minutes on average. This changes as we age.
While in deep sleep, our bodies are repairing damage to tissue and fortifying our immune system.
To get more deep sleep, overall sleep habits need to be adjusted.
Did you know?
Some people have a sleeping disorder known as hypersomnia, which makes them feel fatigued no matter how much deep sleep they get.
Digging into the finer details of sleep and hearing about the different stages? Curious about how much deep sleep you need?
Deep sleep is a vital part of our body’s daily revitalization project, and it takes time. How much time depends a little on age and also individual sleep needs.
However, for most people there’s one general blueprint for how much deep sleep they need, and how to get it.
What Is Deep Sleep?
When your head hits the pillow, you transition from one stage of sleep to another, each with characteristics that make them stand out. In total, there are four stages. The first three fall under the “non-Rapid Eye Movement” (non-REM) umbrella.
During the non-REM stage, our brains drift deeper and deeper into sleep. And you can tell that we’re falling asleep by looking at the changing brain waves on an EEG chart.
During stage one, these waves are a little shallower and we’re still only starting to drift off. During stage two, the waves get bigger as we begin to really conk out. Our brain even starts to suppress outside stimuli at this time. Some have called this stage “deeper sleep.”
The third and final stage of non-REM sleep is the true “deep sleep.” In it, these large spikes in brain activity widen out, turning into delta waves. And in order to confirm that you’ve entered this stage, those waves need to make up more than 20% of an EEG chart.
If you’re in deep sleep, you likely won’t know it yourself since, as the name suggests, you’re deeply unconscious. Your muscles start to relax. You’re harder to wake up. And you may even start to dream.
The Purpose Of Deep Sleep
There are still plenty of unknowns when it comes to the brain and sleep, but researchers agree that the main purpose of deep sleep is for repairing and restoring the body. That includes muscles, bones, tissues, and even the immune system. It’s one of the reasons our bodies crave more sleep when we’re run down.
If you include the second stage of sleep in the “deep sleep” category, there’s also some memory strengthening that takes place.
Finally, deep sleep also impacts overall sleep pressure, so if you constantly feel tired throughout the day, it may be because you’re not getting your fill of the second and third stages of sleep.
It’s one of the reasons why you should try to avoid napping for too long. If you enter deep sleep, your brain removes some of that sleep pressure, making it harder to get rest at night.
And if you wake up in the middle of deep sleep, you’ll run into something called sleep inertia – that feeling of grogginess and crankiness you may have experienced after a nap.
Deep Sleep VS REM Sleep – The Differences
The final stage of the sleep cycle is REM, and it’s very different from deep sleep.
Brain wave activity, for instance, starts to look very similar on an EEG to how it would in a waking brain. You also lose muscle tone, possibly as a self-defense mechanism to avoid acting out dreams during sleep. Finally, as the name suggests, the eyes start to dart back and forth which doesn’t happen during the other stages.
In terms of function, REM sleep wears several hats. Here are the big ones:
- REM may be as important as stage 2 sleep for memory.
- It’s also crucial for emotional processing, acting as a sort of internal therapy session.
- REM helps the body transition into wakefulness, which leads into the next sleep cycle.
All of that is incredibly important, but what REM sleep doesn’t do is rejuvenate the body as deep sleep does.
The Average Person’s Sleep Needs
To get the restorative and mind-boosting benefits of deep sleep and REM, the average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Within those hours of dozing, there are typically four or five sleep cycles, each taking 90-120 minutes. Those can be broken down even further based on the sleep cycle.
However, things start to get complicated as the night progresses. This is because you need less deep sleep as the night goes on, and REM cycles start to get longer.
How Many Hours Of Deep Sleep Do You Need?
In adults, 20% of total sleep time is spent in deep sleep (stage 3). Going with the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night, that means the average adult needs 84-108 minutes or 1.4-1.8 hours of deep sleep each night.
For those wondering if 20 minutes of deep sleep is good enough, the answer is unfortunately no. If you’re talking about a single sleep cycle, this might be enough. But over the course of an entire night, 20 minutes of deep sleep simply isn’t sufficient to keep your body in good health.
How Many Hours Of Stage 2 Sleep Do You Need?
As mentioned, stage 2 sleep isn’t technically “deep sleep,” but it’s on the deeper side. It’s also vital for good health and makes up 50% of your total snoozing. You’ll need a total of 210-270 minutes or 3.5-4.5 hours of stage 2 sleep every night to keep that memory sharp.
How Many Hours Of REM Sleep Do You Need?
The last major type of sleep to consider is REM sleep, sometimes called light sleep. This stage of the sleep cycle makes up 25% of total sleep, which means that you’ll need 105-135 minutes or 1.75-2.25 hours of REM sleep every night.
It’s also important to note that most deep sleep comes at the start of the night while REM sleep comes on the back end. So if you get too little sleep at night, you’re robbing yourself of REM sleep more than deep sleep.
Recommended Deep Sleep By Age
The above numbers are great as an overall figure, but the truth is that the average human’s sleep needs are pretty erratic over the course of a lifetime. That’s where phrases like “sleeping like a baby” come from.
Full breakdowns of stage two and three sleep by age is difficult to assess, but here’s what ideal sleep looks like based on age:
Children need about a 50/50 balance of deep and light sleep from birth, but as they get a little bit older, the ratio changes to the usual 75% non-REM to 25% REM sleep.
Our sleep needs don’t change for much of our adult life, but after the age of 65, deep sleep starts to drop along with REM sleep. At that point, stage two sleep starts to make up most of the time asleep.
How To Increase Deep Sleep
With the rise of health monitoring watches and other devices, many people are getting deep into the weeds of their own sleep stats and wondering how they can improve. And the good news is that you can improve. Maybe just not the way you were hoping.
Unfortunately, there’s no reliable way to target one stage of sleep for improvement. But you can increase your deep sleep hours by upping the quality and quantity of your overall sleep. That means sticking to a regular bed routine, exercising during the day, and setting your bedroom up right.
When it comes to increasing your deep sleep, a lot of it comes down to winding down properly at night. And if you’re having trouble in that area, weighted blankets can help out. They may even get you more of that precious deep sleep.
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What happens if you don’t get enough deep sleep?
If you don’t get enough deep sleep at night, your immune system will be stressed and your ability to repair your body’s tissues will be impaired. This could mean a higher chance of illness and injury. Long term, sleep deprivation may lead to outcomes such as heart disease and shortened lifespan.
The good news is that if you get your overall sleep under control, the deep sleep should follow. Even if sleep solutions like a weighted blanket aren’t quite right for you, there are lots of ways you can upgrade your sleep routine to promote deeper sleep, including simply making your bedroom more comfortable and pleasant to be in.
You might want to adjust the lighting in your room, change your sheets more often, or upgrade your bedding with a new sheet set or muslin blanket. If you tend to sleep hot, swapping out a heavy comforter for a more breathable blanket made of muslin can be a great way to encourage yourself to go to bed earlier and let yourself drift off worry free.
Deep sleep is crucial for our body’s ability to repair itself and makes up about one-quarter of total sleep for the average adult. Those trying to get more of it may want to try our Cotton Napper as it can help relax you, which in turn leads to deep sleep in a healthy individual.
If you’re already getting your 7-9 hours of sleep each night, congratulations. As long as you don’t feel fatigued there’s a very good chance you’re already full up on your deep sleep.