How much deep sleep should you have? How to improve it & why it’s important…

How much deep sleep should you have? How to improve it & why it’s important…

This is your simple and convenient guide to the most important part of slumber; deep sleep.

Click on a topic to navigate through the post:

  1. What is deep sleep?
  2. Do you dream in this stage?
  3. REM vs deep sleep
  4. Deep vs light sleep
  5. How many hours do you need?
  6. Can you get too much?
  7. How do I increase it naturally?

First, let’s start with a brief definition…


What is deep sleep?

Deep sleep is the third stage in the sleep cycle. Its name is pretty self-explanatory, as it is the stage where we have the deepest and most restful slumber.

In this stage, your brain produces slower delta waves, your heartbeat slows down, and your muscles relax.

It is time for your brain to switch off and let your body rebuild and repair itself in this restorative stage. Growth hormones are secreted to aid with cellular repairment, and it is also a time where your immune system is strengthened, according to this source.

Here’s a visual aid to give you a better insight into how this stage fits into the cycle…

So, if you’re in a deep sleep, you must begin dreaming… right?

In fact, it’s quite the opposite…


Do you dream in deep sleep?

Deep sleep focuses on the body, not the brain. This is the stage where your body becomes less responsive to the outside world and it is very hard to be woken up.

As you move into a deeper sleep, the brain produces more delta waves for restoration of the body. The body will stimulate growth, repair muscles and tissues and build up your energy for the next day.

With all this going on there is little room for dreaming. Usually there are always no dreams in this stage.

This presents a big difference between the deep sleep stage and REM, keep reading to find out the other major contrasting characteristics…


REM vs Deep Sleep…

Here are the key differences you should be aware of between these two stages…

REM vs Deep Sleep…

Here are the key differences you should be aware of between these two stages…

REM Deep Sleep
Irregular and faster heartbeat. Slower and more rhythmic heartbeat.
Rapid eye movement. No or very little eye movement.
Intense brain activity. Little brain activity.
Dreaming occurs. No dreaming occurs.
Body enters REM after 90 mins of sleep. Body enters deep sleep after 30 – 40 mins.
Restores brain. Restores body.
Processes memories and emotions. Repairs muscle and tissue.
Arm and leg muscles are temporary paralysed to prevent movement and reactions from dreaming. No muscles are paralysed as no dreaming takes place.


Now you’re up to speed with deep sleep and REM, let’s look at a brief comparison of light vs deep…


Deep vs light sleep…


Light Sleep Deep Sleep
The first stage in the cycle. The third stage in the cycle.
Can be woken up easily. Very difficult to wake someone up in this stage.
Little restorative benefits. Where the most restoration of the body takes place.
Some dreaming may occur. No dreaming occurs.
No specific amount of time needed for this. At least 1.5 hours needed to feel refreshed and energised.

Now you’ve got a clear idea of what deep sleep and how it differs from other stages in the cycle, let’s delve into exactly how many hours you should be getting…


How many hours of deep sleep you need at night…

1.5 – 1.8 hours of deep sleep is recommended per night for anyone over 18 years old, New Health Advisor tells us. This is based on the average 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep that you should be getting each night.

Studies show that this stage should take up around 20% of your total slumber to feel alert and refreshed the next morning.

However, this rule doesn’t always apply for different age groups. Here’s a general guide to follow based on New Health Advisor’s recommendations:

Can you have too much deep sleep?

The director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, Michael Grandner, tell us that there’s “no real way to get too much deep sleep”.

Your body knows exactly how much is needed to repair and restore, so once this is met you will transition into REM or light sleep.

This is great news for us as there’s no need to worry about over doing the deep slumber. However, getting too little can have serious consequences on brain function and our bodies. Here is what can happen if you skimp on this serious stage in the cycle:

  • Aging can happen at a faster rate
  • Severe fatigue
  • Lack of focus and concentration
  • You experience emotional issues
  • Weight gain
  • Grogginess when you wake up

If you’re worried that your night routine is lacking on this crucial stage, here are some simple tips for increasing the amount you get naturally…


How to improve deep sleep and induce it naturally…

Before turning to medication or other more serious routes of tackling a lack of deep slumber, there are a few simple and natural methods we recommend trying first…


Tip #1 – Turn off electronic devices

Stay away from any electronic devices that emit blue light at least 1 hour before bed. The blue light tells our brains it’s day time and stimulates brain activity, which can prevent us from getting into a deep sleep.


Tip #2 – Open a window for fresh, cool air

Not only has fresh air been proven to increase our slumber quality, but it will also help get your room to the right temperature. 15.5 – 19.5°C is recommended by Dr. Christopher Winter, Neurologist and Sleep Specialist.


Tip #3 – Maintain a consistent night time routine

Try your best to stick to a regular schedule when it comes to bed time and waking up in the morning. It can be tempting to lie in on the weekend, but deep sleep quality will massively improve if you stick to a consistent routine throughout the week.


Tip #4 – Find what works for you to de-stress

Anxious thoughts and worries can be a top contender for preventing us from falling into a deep slumber. Whether it’s preparing your bag for work the next day the night before, writing down anxious thoughts in a note pad or brewing a relaxing cup of tea, try find what works for you to unwind before bed.


Tip #5 – Create the right environment

The environment you’re in has a massive effect on the amount of deep sleep you’re getting. Here’s a few ways to create the perfect space:

  • Make sure your room is in complete darkness, even avoiding the light creeping under your door from the hall.
  • Replace your bedding with fresh sheets either once a week or once every 2 weeks.
  • Make sure your room is tidy and clutter free.
  • Using calming colours in your room such as blues, greens or pinks.
  • Add some plants to improve air quality.
  • Invest in high quality bedding.


Wake up happy and refreshed after a night of restful deep sleep…

After reading this article I hope you have a better understanding of why this stage in the cycle is so important and how it affects our minds and bodies.

It is vital for getting the most out of your day, and I’d highly recommend testing the tips to improve the quality.

If you have any questions about this topic or anything you think needs adding to the guide, please leave a comment below.

Happy snoozing!

Back to blog