If you’re a parent, you’ve probably forgotten what sleep is. It takes years, but eventually, kids start to sleep in (we promise). Even if you feel like you don’t get any, it’s important to monitor how much sleep you’re getting, specifically, deep sleep. Deep sleep isn’t something you get all night. So even those nights you feel like you slept heavy, it doesn’t mean you had eight hours of deep sleep all night.
That’s why we are here today. First, we need to define deep sleep and how it differs from other periods of sleep you get in a night. Then we will break down how much deep sleep you and your kiddos should be getting each night.
We want to conclude with activities that might be impeding deep sleep, plus a few ways to improve your deep sleep numbers. As adults, our sleep habits change with time, so let’s make sure yours is adequate.
Get your coziest pajamas ready!
What Are the Different Stages of Sleep?
There are four main stages to sleep. The first three are known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM or non-rem) stages, followed by one rapid eye movement (REM) stage. It will take the average person about 120 minutes to cycle through all four stages.
Once you cycle through them, your brain will start the process over. This happens about four to six times a night. For the first half of the evening, you will be in that NREM primarily. After that, REM sleep takes over as the dominant stage as the last half of sleep.
Understanding sleep, and the sleep cycle, helps you gain a better footing for producing better sleep for you and your kids.
Let’s explore that next.
The Four Stages of Sleep
- The first stage of sleep occurs during that period of sleep when we first doze off. Your body and brain activity start to slow down.
- Stage two is still considered light sleep, but your heart rate slows, and your muscles relax. Your body temperature drops.
- Stage three is when that deeper sleep kicks in; your brain waves are at their slowest frequency but highest volume.
- Stage four is REM sleep. This is when your brain waves and eye movement are the most similar to someone awake. Your breathing increases, and your thought process is the most alert. However, your body is still. This is likely when dreaming occurs.
What Stage Is the Deep Sleep?
In short, we have our deep sleep during stage three. It’s the final stage of the period of NREM we spoke about above and increases frequency throughout the night.
It is an essential part of your sleep cycle and vital for your health. So let’s break it down next.
What Is Deep Sleep?
So, we know that deep sleep happens during the third stage of our sleep cycle, but we need to dig deeper. This stage of sleep is associated with long, slow brain waves and is commonly known as slow-wave sleep. This shows that our brains are working but in restful and long movements.
During this stage, our breathing and heart rate are the most slowed. Muscles are the most relaxed. During this period of sleep, it’s the most difficult to wake someone up.
If you’ve ever woken up to one of your kids shaking your arm, this is probably the stage of sleep they disturbed.
Why Is Deep Sleep Important?
Sleep, in general, is something that everyone needs an adequate amount of to be mentally healthy. But deep sleep offers our bodies even more than just mental health.
Your day is full of appointments, meetings, and playing pretend with the littles. This information is constantly coming at you from all directions. At night, our deep sleep stages help us to prepare, process, and file away everything that has happened during the day.
The synapses in our brain (the connections between neurons that send messages) need rest nightly. Deep sleep allows them to rest and recharge for the day. Without this, we wake up the next day with a brain still full of unresolved information.
What Happens When Our Brain Can’t Reset?
Our bodies need to reset each night to prepare for the next day. There’s only so much space in our brains for new information. When we can’t reset, we start new days without a full capacity for activities.
These instances are what lead to things like panic, stress, and anxiety overwhelming our systems. But unfortunately, stress can lead to further problems in your life, like weight gain and acne.
Panic attacks, depression, and anxiety disorders are also obstacles you could face in your future without the proper amount of deep sleep. With the amount of to-do’s on our plate, we can’t handle a shortage of proper resets. And when we think about the pressure that our kids face, we know that getting a handle on deep sleep is critical.
But where do you start?
Additional Health Problems
Our immune system also relies heavily on our ability to get proper sleep. As a result, you will be susceptible to more frequent colds, heart disease, and other long-term illnesses without the proper amount of good sleep.
What Are the Warning Signs of Sleep Deprivation?
There are certain nuances you should look out for if you are worried that you or your littles aren’t getting enough non-rem sleep.
If everyone seems to be getting colds more frequently, you may be experiencing a weakened immune system due to lack of sleep. Another issue your kids could be dealing with is sleepwalking. This happens a lot when our bodies are overworked and under-rested.
If you experience high blood pressure or find yourself or your kids taking more naps than usual, these could also be signs of poor sleep.
If you notice these symptoms in yourself or your kids, consult a healthcare provider as soon as possible to discuss issues.
As a general rule, kids need about two to four hours of deep sleep per night. This varies as newborns need the most while teenagers need the least. For adult sleepers, we need about one to two hours of sleep per night at most.
Why is this?
When we sleep, specifically during deep sleep, our bodies release a growth hormone. So if our kids experience a lack of deep sleep, it will directly negatively affect their growth.
How can we increase our deep sleep and get our numbers right?
Better Sleep Habits
As parents, we know and truly feel that loss of sleep since getting older and having kids. Now that we know what this loss of “reset time” can do to our bodies, we know how crucial this sleep is.
Even if we get a lot of sleep at night, without the proper amount of deep sleep, we still lack the quality of sleep we need.
What’s more, our children are also at risk of suffering from a lack of deep sleep. So everyone can benefit from proper nighttime routines, tips, and tricks. Getting more deep sleep needs to become a priority before it’s too late.
These tips and tricks below can help ensure you and your kids are getting good sleep every night.
Get Adequate Exercise
Your body starts each day with a certain amount of energy. Coupled with this is a need to expel it throughout the day. Our kids seem to never run out, but there’s an end to their energy supply, we swear.
Ensuring an adequate amount of exercise each day will help your brain shut off fully at night. When your brain and body are wiped out from a day full of activity, deep sleep is easier to come by.
This means you’ll wake up more refreshed and better prepared for the day. For your kids, it also means they’re getting what they need to continue to grow up big and strong. It’s a win-win.
Family hikes or walks around your neighborhood are perfect ways to add more activity. You’ll get out and enjoy the fresh air more; we all know as adults we don’t get enough of this. But your brains aren’t the only ones benefiting.
This extra outdoor time is a great way to connect more with your kids. Without the option of video games and phones, you will open up a whole new window for talking. Everyone will benefit as individuals and as a family, creating new memories and stronger bonds.
Maintain the Proper Wellness Routine
Our brains and bodies work on routine and daily schedules. So, maintaining the optimal bedtime routine for you and your kids will help regulate your sleep schedule, aka your circadian rhythm.
Our brains emit chemicals (specifically, melatonin) when it’s time to go to sleep. By creating a strict routine and sticking to it, our brains will know when to do this. If you don’t maintain a proper routine, you run the risk of your brain not releasing this chemical.
Without your body’s melatonin, going to sleep, and staying that way, will be difficult.
Speaking With a Professional
Many times, we have difficulties turning off our brains because of daily worries. For kids, this usually happens when school or sports have high standards that they’re trying to meet.
For us, these stressors come along with work deadlines, parenting, carpooling, and other obligations.
Anything that causes us worry can keep us up at night. If this is happening to you, seeking professional help, like a therapist, could help sort out your feelings and thoughts.
Talking to a therapist can help put your mind at ease and help you sort out the worries you face daily. If your brain has trouble doing this at night, having a daytime outlet for this process is critical.
Don’t be ashamed of consulting a therapist. This is what you need to help you be a better person and a better parent. Not to mention: modeling self-care and self-compassion to our children can create a lasting positive impact on them.
Change Up the Bedtime Routine
If you’re watching a lot of TV at night to fall asleep, this could be confusing your brain. Our brains won’t release melatonin if they think we still need to be awake. The added TV time could be tricking us into staying awake.
Instead, try music or a bedtime podcast to help you fall asleep faster. Your eyes will be able to rest sooner, and your mind can turn off. Another benefit is that podcasts only last so long, so your brain won’t be woken up later by your favorite random funky jazz album.
Utilizing Essential Oils
For thousands of years, indigenous people have used essential oils. The all-natural properties of essential oils can aid your body in various ways. In this specific example, essential oils can help you fall asleep faster and stay sound asleep longer.
Oils like lavender and mandarin have been used for ages for their relaxing qualities. So the perfect blend of these calming oils can be the most beneficial before bed.
The hard part with using essential oils can sometimes be in the execution. Finding the perfect blend as well as the right way to diffuse them can be tricky and take time to get right.
What Is the Best All-Natural Sleep Aid?
Finding the right formula and balance of essential oils can be tricky. Luckily for you, we’ve done the hard work already. Instead of investing in diffusers and experimenting with a ton of oils, just grab yourself and your family the SleepyPatch.
This sticker is our blend of all-natural essential oils lavender, mandarin, sweet marjoram, and vetiver. It is the ideal recipe for a quick dive into dreamland and the best blend for staying asleep throughout the night.
The best part? These stickers go on clothes, not on skin, AND you don’t need expensive diffusers to use them, and kids won’t rub them off the minute you turn around. They will emit delightful aromas all night to keep you and your kids in enough deep sleep to have a great next day.
When To Consult Your Physician
Earlier warning signs may not be happening or totally noticeable. We understand that everyone exhibits signs and symptoms of issues differently.
If you’ve explored all of these solutions and more, you may need to consult your doctor. You or your children could be experiencing more intense issues with sleep.
For children, these could include issues like night terrors. In adults, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea could be impeding your deep sleep needs.
We are confident these tips and tricks, coupled with our amazing products, are the perfect way to get in that deep sleep. This stage of sleep is critical for a healthy lifestyle, so you don’t want to downplay its importance.
Following these tips and guidelines for a good night’s sleep will have the whole house on a better path to mental health in the long term.
Adult Sleep Needs at Every Age: From Young Adults to the Elderly | WebMD
The 4 Stages of Sleep (NREM and REM Sleep Cycles) | Very Well Health