Have you been wondering how to get more deep sleep at night? Check out this guide on the benefits of healthy sleep and how to improve your sleep cycle.
How did you sleep last night? Did you wake up feeling refreshed and energetic or did you hit your “snooze” button a few more times than usual? For too many of us, sleep never feels quite restful enough. This could be because we’re experiencing sleep deprivation for one reason or another. We might also be dealing with a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea that causes us to get poor sleep at night.
What a lot of us don’t realize is that sleep loss can have a profound impact on our brain cells, immune systems, and mental health. But it’s equally important to realize that healthy sleep habits can positively impact our brain and help us thrive physically and mentally. Certain supplements (such as can also be helpful for easing us into deep, restorative sleep.
The human body can only tolerate approximately three nights without sleep before hallucinations set in. The longest time ever recorded without sleep is a little over 11 days. While it’s unlikely that you’ll ever experience multiple consecutive days of zero sleep, it is very likely that you will experience some form of sleep deprivation in your lifetime.
The importance of sleep can’t be overestimated. Healthy sleep gives our bodies the chance to repair damage on a cellular level and fight off diseases. The brain can’t function properly without sufficient sleep.
What Happens in Our Bodies When We Sleep?
Here are some of the coolest things happening inside your body each time you get good sleep at night:
Your body releases hormones necessary for proper function and mood balance
Your muscles begin to repair the damage done to them throughout the day
Your body’s tissues begin to grow and fortify themselves
Your body synthesizes protein, which is an essential macronutrient for survival and good health
Your brain rests and recovers from the demands put on it that day
These are all very important functions of healthy sleep and can answer the question, “Why do we sleep?”
What Are the Stages of Sleep?
When we get a good night’s sleep, we go through the following sleep stages:
Stage 1: This is the lightest stage of sleep, between wakefulness and light sleep. The EEG frequency of the brain slows down and breathing occurs normally.
Stage 2: During stage 2, we enter into a slightly deeper sleep. The brain waves in this stage of sleep are sometimes called “sawtooth waves.” Our body temperature drops and our brain wave activity begins to slow down.
Stage 3: When we enter stage 3, we go into a deeper stage of sleep. It is difficult to wake someone who is in stage 3 of sleep. This stage of sleep is also called delta sleep because it’s characterized by slow delta brain waves.
Stage 4: Like stage 3, stage 4 sleep is also a deep sleep.Sleep stages 1 through 4 are all non-REM sleep.
Stage 5: We enter into REM sleep (also known as rapid eye movement sleep) in stage 5. This is the dreaming stage of sleep. The EEG of a person in REM sleep resembles the EEG of a person who is awake. The heart rate also increases during REM sleep and the skeletal muscles are atonic (which means they don’t move).
People go through different sleep patterns at night, which means you may cycle through the various sleep stages differently than someone else. As long as you spend appropriate time in each of the sleep stages each night, your overall sleep quality should remain high.
There are a variety of things that can impact your sleep cycle. Alcohol and drug use, age, sleep disorders (such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia), and sleep deprivation can all disrupt your circadian rhythm and lead to lost sleep. Even hormone imbalances can cause sleep problems.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
What is healthy sleep, and how much of it do you need? If you get a few hours of shuteye at night, isn’t that enough time for your body to repair its tissues and cells and get ready to face the next day? Probably not. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven hours of sleep per night for adults. This is typically the amount of time required for your body and mind to fully rest and prepare for the next day.
You can tell if you’re getting adequate sleep if you:
Wake up feeling energetic and refreshed in the morning
Don’t have trouble with “brain fog,” but instead are able to think clearly
Are in a good mood the moment you wake up
Have sufficient energy to get through the day without crashing
If you can relate to all of the above scenarios, congratulations! You’re getting quality sleep and experiencing optimal health as a result. But if you have trouble getting up in the morning, can’t seem to focus throughout the day, and struggle with mental health, you probably aren’t getting adequate sleep for your body’s needs.
Insufficient sleep can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. So if disease control is a priority for you, start by getting more quality sleep at night.
When we consistently get insufficient sleep due to untreated sleep disorders or sleep deprivation, we are more likely to be overweight and could even experience a change in our brain size. Research shows that sleep deprivation can shrink the brain, which can’t be a good thing! If you weren’t convinced you needed more sleep before, now you have a lot of great reasons to get sleep at night!
How Much Is Too Much Sleep?
It’s always possible to get too much of a good thing, including sleep. Most sleep experts recommend getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night (for adults). If you have to get more sleep than this in order to feel rested, you probably have an underlying sleep disorder or condition that’s preventing you from getting the quality sleep your body needs.
Sleeping more than nine hours every night is generally considered oversleeping, and it can increase your risk of becoming obese by 21%. Oversleeping can also lead to headaches. Keep in mind that there are times when the body needs extra sleep (such as when it’s recovering from an illness, surgery, or traumatic event).
How Can I Help My Body Rest?
If you try your hardest but can’t seem to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, there are some things you can do to help your body wind down and rest. Try:
Lowering the temperature in your bedroom. If it’s too hot, you’ll struggle to fall asleep.
Put away electronic screens that emit blue light at least an hour before bedtime.
Don’t drink caffeine or take other stimulants in the late afternoon or evening.
Establish and stick to a relaxing bedtime routine (such as bathing, meditating, or reading before bed).
Exercise early in the day instead of in the evening.
Don’t use tobacco (especially at night).
Take natural sleep support supplements (such as Hernightly) instead of relying on prescription sleep medication (which can be habit-forming).
Did you find this information helpful? Check out Mixhers resources for more female-specific healthy living tips and advice!
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