Getting enough sleep can be a problem when there are so many exciting things to see and do, but it is not just about feeling well-rested or tired — both light sleep and deep sleep are crucial for many aspects of health.
A lack of sleep has been linked to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular ailments, mental health conditions like depression and weight-related issues such as obesity and diabetes, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. General recommendations call for adults to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. About 20 percent of that time will be spent in deep sleep, according to the NIH.
After two stages of light sleep in which the body is drifting and transitioning into dormancy, deep sleep arrives. This third stage of sleep comes with the slow brain waves known as delta waves and the eyes and muscles do not move. People in deep sleep are difficult to wake up.
The way to get more deep sleep is to improve sleep in general. Fortunately, there are lots of strategies for doing a better job in bed. Having a routine is one of the most often recommended changes to enhance sleep — that means going to sleep at the same time every night, even when there’s no work to get up for the next day.
Staying away from caffeine, bright lights and heavy food toward the end of the day may also help, as could exercising regularly and getting into a calming habit at night, like drinking herbal tea or meditating.
In addition to cutting down on distracting sounds that reach the pillow from the outside, having white noise play through a machine or a phone app could stop people from waking up in the middle of the night, because it helps to cloak the sudden jumps in ambient sound that tend to stir dreamers. Ear plugs may also do the trick for that problem.
Many experts recommend cutting down on the use of phones, tablets and computers to sleep better. Screens emit blue light that can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and throw off sleep. Researchers have found that people who spend more time using their phones take longer to fall asleep, sleep fewer hours and sleep less efficiently.
Be careful not to overdo it, however. It’s possible that getting too much sleep can have its own drawbacks.