By and large, people don’t get enough sleep. Whether it’s due to hectic work schedules or bad habits, many of us are victims to some kind of sleep impasse. Tragically, many of us don’t seem to care since sleep time is often willingly sacrificed for the sake of feeling productive, watching a late-night video on your smartphone, or thinking you can catch up on sleep later.
While the idea of sleep catch-up is possible, it is not at the ratio most people expect. Some studies show that up to four days of sleep may be required to make up for a single hour of lost sleep. If lost sleep is chronic, at a certain point you will be unable to recover from negative health effects imposed from regularly losing sleep hours.
What is just as important is the type of sleep you’re getting. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is what you experience shortly after going to sleep, and has a meetable recommended quota of around 25% of your total sleep time.
The other 75% should be non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which is more difficult to achieve and plays a more essential role to your well being than REM sleep. Deep sleep is a crucial part of NREM sleep, and it’s during this phase that all the important stuff happens.
Deep Sleep Definition
So, what is deep sleep? Essentially, it is phase three of NREM sleep, during which your body repairs cells, strengthens your bones, builds muscle, and consolidates memories to become more permanent. The first phase of NREM sleep occurs when your eyes are first closed, and the second phase is when your breathing and heart rate slow down. These first two phases exist to prepare the body for deep sleep and only last 10-20 minutes in duration.
This is the stage of sleep that is very difficult to wake from. You may feel groggy for around an hour if woken from deep sleep.
Why Is It Good For Us?
Aside from the reasons already listed, deep sleep helps us learn things, specifically new languages, much more quickly. This relationship is so strong in fact, that if you spend some time learning a language during the day, your body will actually make your deep sleep cycle last longer to aid in this education.
There is also strong evidence to support its role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. During deep sleep, toxic build up and plaques on the brain are washed away. Banking on good sleep now will prevent Alzheimer’s later in life, among other potential brain afflictions.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
This number varies depending on your age, but adults generally require between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. This number increases as you go down the age ranges, as developing minds naturally require more sleep to mature.
What Happens Without It?
During the day after a poor night’s sleep, you will most like suffer from the following symptoms:
- Decrease in mental acuity
- Increase in irritability
- Difficulty learning new tasks or skills
- Mental fog or grogginess
If you suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, you may experience all of the above, in addition to:
- Eye circles
- Falling asleep during daytime hours
- Nodding in and out of consciousness
- Overall lack of energy
It’s difficult to catch a break in this always-on day and age. A few nights of bad sleep won’t kill you, but consistently missing the mark may contribute to some serious health conditions down the line.
Practice good habits like turning your phone off a half hour before going to sleep and avoiding excessive caffeine intake. You can also try alternative methods of energy boosting by consuming more probiotics or using a device like a Feelzing energy patch. Whichever path you choose, investing in good sleep now will pay off as a better quality of life later.