Keep reading to discover why deep sleep is important, why you may be struggling to get enough and 5 top tips on how to enjoy longer and deeper sleep.
|Age range||Average hours of sleep needed per night|
|Babies (4-12 months old)||12-16|
|Toddlers (1-2 years old)||11-14|
|Children 3-5 years old||10-13|
|Children 6-12 years old||9-12|
|Teenagers (13-18 years old)||8-10|
As you can see, younger people tend to need more hours of sleep per night to help their brains develop.
Deep sleep is the most restorative sleep we experience. During deeper sleep stages, our bodies put energy into tissue repair and growth, as well as hormone release and energy restoration. It also helps us the most out of all the sleep cycles to feel refreshed and revived during the following day.
Most deep sleep occurs in sleep stage 3 read more about sleep cycles below.
Sleep stage 1: we experience very light sleep in this cycle and can be woken easily. It usually lasts 5-10 minutes at the start of our sleep
Sleep stage 2: our heart rates slow down and body temperature drops in this cycle. It usually lasts 20 minutes at a time and makes up around 50% of your total sleep (you have multiple cycles of this stage throughout the night)
Sleep stage 3: our muscles relax and blood pressure/breathing rates drop in this stage and we become non-responsive and very difficult to wake. This is our deepest sleep cycle and helps us transition into REM sleep.
REM sleep: Rapid Eye Movement sleep causes your body to become immobilised while your brain becomes more active, your eyes move rapidly and you have dreams – this stage can last up to an hour and around 20% of total sleep is made up of this stage.14
Although there are guidelines for how much sleep you should be getting a night, usually dependent on your age, everyone has individual sleep needs; 7 hours of sleep may feel like plenty for you, whereas another person would feel like it’s barely scratching the surface.
Don’t worry though, your body will let you know if you’re not getting enough sleep! If you have one or more of the following signs, it’s a good indicator that you may not be getting adequate sleep:
Here’s some top tips on how to sleep longer and feel better:
Melatonin is a key hormone in helping you to fall asleep more quickly, as it helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Having low levels of melatonin can cause sleep problems, so it is sometimes prescribed to help insomniacs. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, so keeping your lights dimmed in the evening and reducing your screen time can help raise your melatonin levels naturally. In summertime, black-out blinds are a must to make your bedroom as dark as possible.
Handpicked content: 12 ways to prep your bedroom for a better sleep
You’ve probably heard that getting some exercise can improve your sleep. Plenty of research has found that exercise has an effect on sleep, including a scientific review that concluded it is beneficial for people over 60. But despite all the research, we still don’t know exactly why it helps. It may be thanks to reducing anxiety or depressive symptoms (which are associated with insomnia), physically tiring you out, or having a similar effect on body temperature to a bath.
One myth that has now been discounted is that exercising too close to bedtime can disturb sleep. As there’s no evidence to support this, experts suggest it’s still better to exercise in the evening rather than not at all.
Listening to music can improve sleep quality, according to a review of studies. Researchers used a variety of soothing music (including relaxing classical) for a minimum of 25 minutes, so choose something gentle to listen to at bedtime. Audiobooks were not found to have the same effect, though, so it’s not a shortcut to squeezing in your book club reading unfortunately…
A late dinner is likely to mean a bad night’s sleep, researchers have found. Lying down shortly after eating is known to increase the risk of acid reflux, while the effort the body puts into digesting is contrary to a restful bedtime.
However, a grumbling tum can also prevent you slipping happily into the land of nod. To help prevent night-time hunger waking you, try a small snack of tryptophan-containing foods – such as nuts, seeds, dairy and turkey. Tryptophan is converted by the body into serotonin, a hormone that is linked to sleep.
So, there you have it, why and how to enjoy longer and deeper sleep! In summary:
We hope these sleep tips help you get the good night’s rest you deserve so you can tackle anything life throws your way.Read more: Can’t sleep? 22 lifestyle tips on how to sleep better Shop Sleep & Relaxation
Last updated: 8 January 2021
Author: Donia Hilal, Nutritionist
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018. Donia has 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.Donia has a special interest in; weight management, plant-based nutrition, pregnancy nutrition, special diets and disease risk reduction. Donia's LinkedIn profile