Many people consider they get “enough sleep” (though that figure varies person to person), but what you should really be considering is whether you get enough deep sleep—there is a difference. Sleep disorders can disrupt the most necessary type of sleep, which is why The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona treats patients of all ages (as young as two-years-old) and has been called the Face of Sleep Medicine in the Phoenix area. Staffed by sleep specialists who concentrate in sleep medicine, beginning with your consultations you will work with a sleep expert who can diagnose sleep disorders. Here, you’ll enjoy unprecedented staffing levels and there is no referral needed to book your consultation.

We all know that sleep deprivation can be devastating to every facet of your life. Most adults, but not all, require 7 – 9 hours of sleep. Deep sleep must be a part of this nightly sleep. If you do not routinely get enough deep sleep, a number of issues can arise or be exacerbated including heart disease, a weakened immune system, an increased risk of stroke, and (for men) erectile dysfunction. “Sleep” is a complex system that includes a number of phases, and deep sleep is an absolute necessity for your overall health.

Sleep Matters

Deep sleep typically occurs earlier in our sleep period, usually within 30 minutes of sleep onset, and continues throughout most of the first half of the night—or at least it should. However, it isn’t constant. Deep sleep should come and go, but can last up to 60 minutes per session. This is the restorative aspect of sleep. This is when growth hormones are produced which, unsurprisingly, are especially important for children. Without this type of sleep, proper growth and development simply won’t occur.

Growth hormone is important for adults, too. This chemical is part of our recovery process and key in helping to retain youthfulness. It’s also called slow-wave sleep and it’s a critical part of a good immune system. It can help prevent injury, make our muscles and bones stronger, and is paramount to nearly countless bodily functions. In short, if you or your child isn’t getting enough deep sleep, you’ll suffer in a myriad of ways.

Going Deep with Sleep

How much deep sleep is needed? It depends. Although eight hours has long been touted as the magical number needed when it comes to sleep, it’s an average. However, if we use this as an example, we should expect to get the two major doses of deep sleep within the initial two 90-minute cycles of sleep. There are also some technicalities to consider. Deep sleep is not necessarily REM sleep—in fact, REM sleep is deeper than what is often dubbed “deep sleep.” But no matter what you call deep sleep, it’s a level that should not be missing from your schedule. Let’s take a look at the stages of sleep.

Stage one is where you begin to nod off. Your body and brain slow down. Next, stage two is a light form of sleep. This is when body temperature begins to lower, the heart rate slows down, and muscles begin to relax. Stage three is deep sleep. At this point, memory consolidation, toxin removal, and cell and body restoration begin to happen. If you’re woken up at this stage you’ll feel groggy. However, it’s still lighter than stage four, which is REM sleep. REM is where the most vivid dreams occur.

Knowing Your Sleep Steps

Without deep sleep, you won’t feel rested the next day. Although many people consider REM the ultimate in sleep, when you feel great after waking up it’s usually because you got enough of stage three sleep. This is the sleep that you “feel” in the morning. However, there’s no magical number of minutes of deep sleep needed. An average goal is two hours, and remember that these occur in the first three or so hours of sleep. The amount of deep sleep phases we get tend to taper off towards the end of the night.

It’s impossible to know or track how much deep sleep you get, but if you regularly feel like you didn’t get enough rest or groggy throughout the day even if you slept 8+ hours, a lack of deep sleep could be to blame. The cause for disruptive sleep at night can be a number of sleep disorders ranging from insomnia to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If you or your child isn’t feeling well-rested, help is available. Contact The Insomnia and Sleep Institute today to schedule your consultation with a sleep specialist. Call the office or, for the quickest reply, start a chat or complete the online contact form.