Understanding Sleep Cycles – What is Deep Sleep?
It shifts through cycles with different characteristics. The two main phases of sleep are non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement). Each night, your sleep begins with non-REM sleep and moves through a few stages:
The heartbeat, eye movements, and breathing slow down; brain waves slow, and muscles relax.
You spend more time in this stage of sleep than any other. Breathing and heartbeat slow more, eyes stop moving, the body’s temperature drops, and brain waves slow down.
This is deep sleep, also known as slow wave sleep. Your heart rate, breathing, and brain waves are at their slowest. It is difficult to awaken from this stage.
You move into REM from stage 3 deep sleep. This happens about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Your eyes begin to move, and you start dreaming. Breathing, heart rate, and brain waves all become faster as you move into a more wakeful state.
What is Meditation for Deeper Sleep?
It is important to get adequate deep sleep every night for optimal health. Some people use meditation to spend more time on this stage each night.
Deep sleep, when even loud noises may not wake you up right away, restores energy to the body and mind. It is important to get adequate deep sleep every night for optimal health. Some people use meditation to spend more time on this stage each night.
Regular mindfulness meditation is proven to improve sleep, reduce insomnia, and reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. The more you practice meditation, the better you will sleep. That includes getting more restful deep sleep.
Once you have conquered insomnia, try meditation for deep sleep. BetterSleep offers several meditations designed to increase your time spent in this stage for a more restorative sleep. BetterSleep uses guided meditations, suggestions, sounds and music to help you enter a deeply relaxed state of mind. This relaxation primes you for deep sleep. A set of five deep sleep meditations will work you toward better sleep through the week.
Any deep sleep meditation should focus on deep breathing. Studies have found that relaxation through deep, slow breathing improves sleep quality, as well as quantity. This kind of breathing is thought to stimulate the vagus nerve, which leads to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and relaxed muscles.
Benefits of Deep Sleep Meditation
Meditation has many benefits, and the benefits expand when used to get better sleep. If you can spend more time in deep sleep, there are some big payoffs:
- More energy & reduced fatigue
- Cell turnover in the body
- More blood flow to muscle, which aids repair and growth
- A stronger immune system
- Better hormone regulation
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases
- Improved mental health
How to Get Deeper Sleep
Studies show that people spend, on average, between 13 and 23 percent of their sleeping time in stage 3 deep sleep. With so many benefits of this kind of sleep, it makes sense to find ways to spend more time there.
Meditation can be a powerful tool for harnessing and controlling sleep cycles. There are other things you can do to support that goal:
- Get plenty of exercise to relax the body and mind and to reduce tension. Do this earlier in the day if you struggle with insomnia.
- Combine exercise and focused breathing with regular yoga practice.
- Listen to music or soundscapes that help you feel relaxed before bed.
- Be consistent with sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Avoid alcohol before bed. It can interfere with your ability to settle into deep sleep.
The stages of sleep cycle throughout the night. With a good night’s sleep, you may go through four or five complete cycles. One of the most important things you can do to get more deep sleep is to make sure you have enough time. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. This will give you plenty of time to get through several deep sleep cycles.
Deep sleep is the key to better sleep. Start with the basics of sleep hygiene and combat insomnia to ensure you sleep enough hours each night. Then try guided deep sleep meditations to relax your body and mind into this deep, still state.