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Tips to increase your Deep sleep

Just like REM sleep, the amount of deep sleep you need varies from person to person. It will depend on what you did during your day, on your age and other factors. For adults, deep sleep is approximately 15 to 20% of total sleep. Elderly people experience a shorter duration.

Here are so top level tips to achieve high quality and restorative deep sleep.

Sleep Cycles Circular

Get to know your sleep habits

The periods of deep sleep are the most abundant and most regenerative at the beginning of your sleep. So the goal is to fall asleep as quick as possible to spend the most time in deep sleep.

There are a lot of trackers such as the Circular Ring that you can use to know your sleep habits, the evolution of your sleep cycle and compare your nights.

Sleep every day at the same time 

By doing so, it will allow you to program your subconscious and prepare your body for falling asleep. As with everything, it will take time for your body to adapt (a few nights for most people). Once calibrated, your body will naturally warn you every night when it is time to go to bed.

Be smart about what you eat and drink

Your nutrition has a big impact on your sleep quality. Minimizing caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before sleeping seems logical. But less known, avoid having heavy and late dinner. Sugar and carbohydrates reduce quality of deep sleep. Go for a light dinner, without quick sugars and red meat which are the foods that take the longest time to digest.

Do not eat within four to six hours prior to the time you want to sleep.

Be physically active

The more you exercise, the more your body will have to spend time in deep sleep to regenerate. It has been proven that daily exercise allows people to sleep better and stay in deep sleep longer. Do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day. However, exercising just before bed could interfere with your schedule. Try to exercise daily at least three hours before you go to bed.

Write your day

You can keep a daily journal by briefly describing before sleeping what happened during your day. When you write your day down, you make your brain lighter in order to enter Deep sleep faster. This will facilitate the work that is done during your REM sleep and leave more room for your deep sleep.

Avoid blue lights

Turn off the TV, smartphone, tablet, computer at least 2 hours before sleep. Or even better, keep all your electronics outside the bedroom. The light that these devices emit stimulate the brain, suppress the production of melatonin (which encourages to fall asleep), and interfere with your body’s biological clock.

Magnesium and Melatonin intake

Recent studies have shown that taking magnesium and melatonin with a dosage appropriate to your body can increase the duration of Deep sleep. See this with your doctor.

How to track how much Deep sleep you are getting?

You can use your Circular ring to know exactly how much Deep sleep you get each night. The app gives you the details of your sleep cycle including the portion of Deep sleep accordingly to your cycles, but also the amount of Deep sleep in percentage and duration of your total sleep. You can also compare your Deep sleep from night to night to monitor your evolution and compare your last night with your own average to understand your sleep.

Sleep Stages Circular

You can also read our article on Sleep better and fall asleep faster. The tips described there also apply to increase deep sleep.

If you wish to improve your REM Sleep you can also read Tips to increase your REM sleep.

Tips to increase your REM sleep

Just like deep sleep, the amount of REM sleep you need varies from person to person. It will depend on what you did during your day, on your age and other factors. For example, babies spend 50% of their sleep time in REM sleep, whereas it is pretty much 20% to 25% for adults.

There are few reasons people want to increase their REM sleep. An increase in REM sleep has been shown to improve memory and general mental abilities. You may also want to extend the length of time you dream.

Sleep Cycles Circular

Get to know your sleep cycle duration and habits

If you know about your sleep habits and how your cycle evolves during your sleep, you can start planning your bedtime schedules so that you can fully and naturally benefit from REM sleep periods. Knowing that it is at the end of sleep that REM periods are the most abundant and long, it is necessary to optimize your sleep times so that these REM periods can last as much as possible before waking up.

There are a lot of trackers such as the Circular Ring that you can use to understand your sleep habits and compare the evolution of your sleep cycle.

Avoid blue lights

Turn off the TV, smartphone, tablet, computer at least 2 hours before sleep. Or even better, keep all your electronics outside the bedroom. The light that these devices emit stimulate the brain, suppress the production of melatonin (which encourages REM sleep), and interfere with your body’s biological clock.

You can use Blue-Light-Blocking glasses and softwares that auto prevents the blue color of your devices.

Optimize your sleep environment

Sleeping in a quiet, dark room and at a cool and comfortable temperature will help you make your sleep stable and durable. Noise, as well as blue light, delays the release of melatonin. It is therefore essential to cut the noise as much as possible before going to bed. Don’t listen to any sound higher than that of a human conversation. For example, if you listen to music or television, try to listen to it at a reasonable volume.

Consider using earplugs, smart lights, smart thermostats and smart bedding.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Do not consume caffeine or alcohol within four to six hours before bedtime.

Be intellectually active during the day

The more you use your brain during the day, the more your brain will seek to achieve REM sleep. As REM sleep is for your brain to process the information of your day, if your brain was very stimulated during the day you will spend more time in REM sleep. 

That stimulation is achieved through reading, writing, creating, learning, having social interactions…

Magnesium and Melatonin intake

Recent studies have shown that taking magnesium and melatonin with a dosage appropriate to your body can increase the duration of REM sleep. Get advise from your doctor.

How to track how much REM sleep you are getting?

You can use your Circular ring to know exactly how much REM sleep you get each night. The app gives you the details of your sleep cycle including the portion of REM sleep according to your cycles, but also the amount of REM sleep in percentage and duration of your total sleep. You can also compare your REM sleep from night to night to monitor your evolution and compare your last night with your own average to understand your sleep.

Sleep Stages Circular

If you wish to improve your Deep sleep you can also read “Tips to increase your Deep sleep”  

Sleep better and fall asleep faster

Here are some of our best tips to optimize your lifestyle and boost your level of productivity thanks to good sleep quality.

Experience both daylight and darkness

Light influences your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Irregular light exposure can lead to disruption of circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep. That’s why if you live in a country where there is not a lot of sun or winters without sun, it is normal for you to have episodes where you sleep badly. It is important to expose your body to bright light or artificial bright light during the day and sleep in a dark room at night. (Click here to know more about Circadian Rhythm)

Respect a regular schedule

The second most important tip is to follow a regular schedule. This means going to bed at the same time each night to regulate your inner clock and to wake up at the end of your sleep need. 

The Circular app can help you with that because it will analyze for you, your sleep needs and tell you at what time you should go to bed depending on your time to fall asleep and your waking up time.

Be active

If you are not already doing physical activity, be active during your day. But be careful, do not do sports too close to the time you go to bed or your system will still be stimulated and you won’t be able to fall asleep correctly. Give your system at least 3 hours before sleeping. The best time for you to train would be in the middle of the day, between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm because it’s the time of the day when your body temperature is the highest.

Avoid digital screens

The following factor is the number one cause for extremely high falling asleep time. Digital screens are a plague for sleep and this for two main reasons. Firstly because watching something on a screen requires a lot of effort for your eyes and is very stimulating for your brain. This will make your brain think unnecessarily (even unconsciously) before and during your sleep. And secondly, because the blue light of these screens will disrupt your circadian rhythm. Basically, it will make think your inner clock that it is not time to sleep and therefore delay your sleep even if you put yourself in the dark. 

So don’t watch digital screens before sleeping. And if you really want to watch your screen, we suggest installing something to get rid of blue light, lower the brightness to the minimum and do not look at your screen in the dark but rather in a lit room. Finally do not look at your screens in your bed while lying down. Because lying in bed for a long time without sleeping will also disrupt your inner system. The gesture of lying indicates to your system that you want to sleep, so don’t miss your opportunity to sleep.

Be smart about what you eat and drink

Your nutrition has a big impact on your sleep quality. Minimizing caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before sleeping seems logical. But less known, avoid having heavy and late dinner. Sugar and carbohydrates reduce quality of deep sleep. Prefer a light dinner, without quick sugars and red meat but with a portion of slow sugars.

Do not eat within 4 to 6 hours of the time you want to sleep. 

Create a comfortable environment of sleep. 

Don’t work too late (within 2 hours of the time you want to sleep).

Sleeping in a quiet, dark room and at a cool and comfortable temperature will help you fall sleep faster and make your sleep stable. The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 18 – 22 Celcius degrees (64.4 – 71.6 Fahrenheit degrees).

Noise, as well as blue light, delays the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for your sleep. It is therefore essential to cut the noise as much as possible before going to bed. Don’t listen to any sound higher than that of a human conversation. For example, if you listen to music or television, try to listen to it at a reasonable volume.

Practice meditation

Meditation and relaxation practice will help improve falling asleep faster and sleep better. There is a simple but powerful breathing method called the 4-7-8 method that is used by the military and ancient yogi that will lower your heartbeat, help yo calm yourself, make you fall asleep faster, sleep better and increase your natural defenses. 

Here are the steps. Exhale completely through your nose until you completely empty your air. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose until you are completely filled with air (belly and lung) while mentally counting to four. Hold your breath and mentally count to seven. Close your mouth and exhale completely through your nose, and mentally counting to eight. If 4-7-8 is easy for you double the ratio to 8-14-16 and so on. Repeat this cycle 7 times. Do it at least three times a day, the more you do it the better it will be. 

Have a social life

It has been proven that having social interaction improve your morale and your sleep quality. 

Do not pay attention to time

People who can’t fall asleep or that wake up during the night often tend to watch the clock and are obsessed about the fact that they cannot fall asleep. But this behavior causes anxiety and that’s what you want to avoid. So get rid of any clock in your bedroom that shines in the night or forces yourself not to watch it. Even if it is tempting, watching the time is useless. In any case, you’ll have to wake up at the time you have to wake up at and looking at it won’t make you fall asleep faster.

Conclusion

The next night should be prepared during the previous day. There is a lot of parameters to take into consideration to find a good sleep quality. But you are surely already doing great on some of these factors. And if you are not, it is okay, try to apply these changes step by step.

You can also use the Circular ring to help you monitor most of its parameters and understand in detail how your sleep and your activity affect your energy to improve it sustainably.

Sleep better: external factors influencing sleep quality

Here are the most common external factors that influence sleep quality. 

Digital screens

It is the number one cause for bad sleep. Digital screens are a plague for sleep and this for two main reasons. Mainly because watching something on a screen requires a lot of effort for your eyes and is very stimulating for your brain. This will make your brain think unnecessarily (even unconsciously) before and during your sleep. And also, because the blue light of these screens will disrupt your circadian rhythm. It will make your inner clock think that it is not time to sleep and therefore delay your sleep even if you put yourself in the dark. 

Bottom line: don’t watch digital screens before sleeping. And if you really want to watch your screen, consider downloading an app (or sometimes changing your settings) to get rid of blue lights, lower the brightness to the minimum and do not look at your screen in the dark but rather in a lit room. Finally do not look at your screens in your bed while lying down. Because lying in bed for a long time without sleeping will also disrupt your inner system. The gesture of lying indicates to your system that you want to sleep, so don’t miss your opportunity.

Daylight and darkness

Light influences your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Irregular light exposure can lead to a disruption of your circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep well. That’s why if you live in a country where there is not a lot of sun, it is normal for you to have episodes where you sleep badly. It is important to expose your body to bright light or artificial bright light during the day as well as sleeping in a dark room at night. (Click here to know more about Circadian Rhythm)

Jet Lag

Quite obvious, but it is normal to suffer from insomnia or excessive sleepiness when traveling to a country that drastically does not live at the same time as you. Depending on whether you are traveling west or east and your Jet Lag management, it may take a few days for your body to get used to the new time zone.

Alcohol intake in the evening

At first glance, having a drink seems to be helpful to fall asleep because it makes you tired once the effects of alcohol fade. However, if alcohol usually helps you fall asleep, it disrupts the rest of the night.

Alcohol will increase the duration and frequency of awakenings in the second part of your night. It increases the duration of light sleep and it reduces deep sleep.

A single glass of wine remains okay for sleep.

Caffeine intake

Caffeine in coffee, tea, chocolate or some other drinks is not recommended to intake in the hours before bedtime.

Caffeine is a stimulating substance that reaches its highest blood level after 30 to 60 minutes and its half-life is 3 to 6 hours: in other words, it takes between 3 and 6 hours for the body to eliminate half of the caffeine ingested, the rest can last up to 14 hours in the body.

It is important not to consume coffee, tea, cola or any caffeinated beverage after 5 pm in which case caffeine will delay falling asleep, shorten total sleep time and decrease the quality of sleep.

Tobacco intake

Even if one seems to feel peace after a cigarette, nicotine is also a stimulant of the central nervous system and can delay falling asleep and make your sleep lighter. Nicotine is actually a stimulating substance that speeds up the heart rate and raises blood pressure. Moreover, when quitting smoking, sleep disturbances may manifest as insomnia. Smoking also promotes the occurrence of snoring and sleep apnea. Smokers would be 2.5 times more likely to suffer from OSA (obstructive sleep apnea syndrome) than non-smokers. Read about Sleep disorders classification.

Heavy and late meal

The quality of sleep is linked to a multitude of factors among which nutrition is a key factor.

Even if we may think that sleeping just after eating is a good idea because we will use the fatigue of digestion to sleep faster, in the end, it may be destructive.

A laborious digestion is the first thing to avoid, and for a simple reason. Digestion and sleep are two completely different activities for your body that will have a hard time doing both at the same time. On one side you’re asking your body to let go and relax while on the other side your entire body is engaging into heavy activity to digest.

Of course the digestion time and effort depends on the composition of your meals. This is why you must avoid eating heavy foods that are hard to digest before bedtime. Avoid evening meals that are rich in greasy meats, calories and vitamin C. Sugar and carbohydrates reduce the quality of deep sleep.

Moreover, the lying position promotes gastric reflux and burning sensations. It is not an ideal position to digest. As a general rule, you should wait for four to six hours after the end of dinner before going to bed.

Some medication and drugs intake

Taking amphetamine drugs, corticosteroids, anti-tuberculosis, antihistamines, as well as prescription medications including beta blockers, alpha blockers, and some antidepressants can affect the good quality of sleep.

Physical activity before sleep

Physical exercise is well known for the feeling of relaxation and well-being it can provide, especially after a grueling workout. Nevertheless working out before sleep time may not be good for the quality of your sleep. Indeed, practicing a sport just before bedtime can cause insomnia (especially if it’s a heavy effort).

During sleep, the temperature of the body drops. While when you exercise, the temperature of your body increases. There are several ways to regulate the temperature of our body, the most effective being respiration. However, its cooling action is not immediate. Therefore, by practicing a physical activity shortly before bedtime, the temperature of your body will be high and you may have trouble falling asleep.

Moreover, during physical activities, the body releases hormones into the bloodstream that keep us awake and alert. If this is beneficial during a sport session, it can be a problem when you will try to sleep. You may lose long hours of sleep waiting for your hormone levels to drop.

However a walk before sleep is quite recommended.

Intellectual activity before sleep

If you want to have a good night’s sleep, it is really not the time to get your brain thinking too much in the evening, and it is not a good time either to tackle the issues that get you angry and frustrated.

The risk of intellectual activity before sleeping, is to not being successful in letting your ideas go and get your brain to unconsciously try to solve your problems before sleeping. And this is very bad. It might get you angry and delay  your sleep even more. 

So consider relaxing activities that don’t need your brain to think too hard.

The culture and the country where you live 

Living in a stressful environment (job, social, politic, economic) determines our pace of life and the environment in which we live. So many factors that are beyond our control can affect our sleep negatively.

Your environment of sleep 

Sleeping in a quiet, dark room and at a cool and comfortable temperature will help you sleep faster. 

When you start to fall asleep the temperature of your body drops. The body becomes more sensitive to high temperatures and it can disturb your sleep very easily. That’s why the ideal room temperature for sleep is between 18 – 22 Celcius degrees (64.4 – 71.6 Fahrenheit).

Noise, as well as blue light, delay the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for your sleep. It is therefore essential to cut any noise as much as possible before going to bed. Don’t listen to any sound higher than that of a human conversation. For example, if you listen to music or television, try to listen to it at a reasonable volume.

Also, the comfort of your bed can influence your sleep. The greater the feeling of comfort, the better sleep will be.

Pain and Sickness

It is obvious that physical pain and sickness will influence the quality of your sleep and can cause sleep debt. Consider practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep abdominal breathing. In extreme case, you can use pain killers and/or sleeping pills under the supervision of a doctor.

The Full Moon

Full moon can be a mess for some people. Scientists have reported an average of 25-minute decreasing sleep time during the full moon coupled with less deep sleep. However they also found an increase in the duration of REM sleep of 30 minutes. During this lunar phase, the release of melatonin decreases. In recent years, specialists accumulate the results in favor of a lunar influence on sleep, even if failing to have solid tracks of explanations.

Conclusion

Indeed, there are many external factors that can disturb our sleep. But most of them can easily be fixed once you have identified them. If you identify several causes for your poor sleep, do not try to fix everything at once. Go little by little.

If you feel that you have issues sleeping because of stress or anxiety, you can read “How to get rid of stress and anxiety”

The benefits and risks of polyphasic sleep

“Polyphasic” sleep is a natural way of sleep for young children. It consists in distributing your core sleep in several parts. We are not talking about a simple nap here. There are several ways to practice polyphasic sleep depending on your lifestyle. There are well-known programs that have their own community, fan pages, dedicated books and research papers. You may already have heard about the “Uberman” (no relation to the taxi company) or the “Everyman” program.

Monophasic and Polyphasic Sleep Circular

The advantages

We might want to first ask why people would force themselves to sleep in another way. It is said that many great people like Thomas Alva Edison, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, many presidents, sailors and artists practiced or currently practice polyphasic sleep. The advantages (not scientific) of using polyphasic sleep is first and foremost to free time to achieve one’s projects by reducing sleep time and benefiting from a boosted productivity flow by taking advantage of more frequent sleeping periods.

Some would say it’s a miracle, transforming yourself in some sort of supernatural being that sleeps only a few hours while achieving great amounts of work.

Yes but…

The disadvantages

This type of sleep is not made for everyone. First of all, it does not fit with everyone’s way of life and work. But more importantly, when someone embarks on this kind of sleep, it is all of his biology that is disturbed. You have to be mentally and physically strong to be able to stand the change and be very methodical to last on the long term. You also have to be someone who naturally doesn’t need a lot of sleep, because these programs can make you sleep deprived.

It is not in a couple of days that you will succeed going from the socially accepted monophasic sleep to a polyphasic schedule, the process can take quite some time. The adaptation period of the brain to this new structure of sleep can be very long and painful. And while you adapt your daily life to the realization of this sleep structure, you will feel more and more distant from society because your lifestyle will be radically different. Loneliness is not always something easy to handle.

That is why only determined people guided by a project can achieve it.

Conclusion 

Only very few people can sleep so little in the long term and still maintain their regular level of productivity. There are lucky souls who don’t need much sleep. These people can do with as little as four to six hours of sleep per day. So if you are not part of this group, we strongly advise against trying polyphasic sleep on a long period of time.

A more detailed article on polyphasic sleep will be available soon.

Scientific sources:

  • In short photoperiods, human sleep is biphasic. THOMAS A. WEHR
  • Sleep We Have Lost: Pre-industrial Slumber in the British Isles.  A. ROGER EKIRCH
  • The Effects of Polyphasic and Ultrashort Sleep Schedules. CLAUDIO STAMPI

Picture: Armel Le Cléac’h : V. CURUTCHET/BPCE – Marc Guillemot : JEAN-MARIE LIOT/DPPI

How to nap

But napping is an art that requires training for most people. The ideal way to adapt to naps is to practice regularly get your biological clock accustomed to having a break in the early afternoon.

If you take a nap and you wake up even more tired, it’s surely because you slept too long and you didn’t wake up in the light sleep phase. According to sleep specialists, a perfect nap should not last more than 15 to 20 minutes to stay in the light sleep phase.

Most people are using the drop in energy after having lunch in order to fall asleep. Don’t take caffeine or any other stimulants as chocolate after your lunch.

To succeed in having naps on demand, some people use biology hacks to condition their brain with an element that will trigger the process of falling asleep. Try to always take the same position. You can also, for example, choose a pleasant image that you often have in mind and start by thinking about this image, mentally detailing it whenever you want to take a nap. There are a lot of meditation technique that have the same purposes. As for example breathing exercises. 

Training

In order to learn how to have naps, this process requires to train your brain to fall asleep. Here’s how it works: When you feel sleepy at some point in the day, give yourself permission to take a 20 minutes nap.

Start a timer as soon as you lie down for your nap. You can use your Circular Ring as a timer of 20 minutes that will wake you up with vibrations at the end of the timer. Whether you sleep or not, and whatever time it takes you to fall asleep, you have 20 minutes total for this activity, not a minute more. Just relax and allow yourself to fall asleep as you normally would. You do not have to do anything special, so do not try to force it. If you fall asleep, that’s fine. If you just lay there for 20 minutes while you’re awake, that’s fine too. And if you sleep a fraction of that time, it’s just as good.

At the end of the 20 minutes, you must get up immediately. Without slouching. The nap is over. 

As you practice this exercise you will start to fall asleep during that 20 minutes period. Everyone is different, so the time you will need to adapt to naps will be different from one person to another. 

When you will be able to sleep, you can then use the smart nap circle of Circular to sleep the perfect amount of time in order to energize yourself: Circular smart nap: The best way to power nap