7 Reasons Why You Need More Deep Sleep
While you’re sleeping, you cycle through several different stages of sleep. One of these stages is deep sleep. Some scientists also call it slow-wave sleep, or non-REM stage 3 sleep.
The thing is, very few people get enough deep sleep. Technology, modern-day stresses, caffeine, and unhealthy eating patterns all decrease the amount of deep sleep you get and can result in chronic sleep deprivation.
Many wearable devices now track your sleep patterns, showing the amount and type of your sleep. While not fully reliable they can help indicate if you’re reaching the optimal level of 1.5 to 2 hours of deep sleep each night.
Getting enough sleep can make a huge difference in your life. Here are 7 of the most important benefits of deep sleep, followed by ways you can improve your chances of more restful sleep.
1. Enhanced Immune Function
All stages of sleep are essential for a properly functioning immune system. When you are sleep deprived, your immune system is weakened (1, 2). This makes you much more likely to get sick.
Scientists are still trying to figure out what each stage of sleep accomplishes for the immune system. So far, they have discovered that deep sleep plays an important role in the formation of immunological memory (3).
In other words, deep sleep helps your immune system develop a “memory” for bacteria and viruses you have been exposed to, which can help ensure you don’t get sick from the same pathogen again.
2. The Brain Cleans Itself of Toxins
Research has found that the brain removes toxins during deep sleep (4). “It’s like a dishwasher,” explains Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester.
During the deep phases of sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain increases. CSF circulates nutrients and removes waste products or toxins from the brain.
Since the blood-brain barrier prevents the passage of most molecules, CSF is a vital component of the brain’s detoxification process because many of the compounds washed away via CSF are toxic to brain cells.
Beta-amyloid plaque, for example, is a sticky compound that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Normally, CSF can help shuttle amyloid plaques out of the brain (5).
Just a single night of sleep deprivation can result in higher levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. Can you imagine what can happen with years of chronic sleep deprivation? Experts believe it may help explain the link between sleep disorders and Alzheimer’s disease (6).