I doubt there are many people who would decline an opportunity to have more deep sleep. Deep sleep is synonymous with restoration but what is it? In the sleep lab, we identify deep sleep by an electrical pattern generated by the brain which is characterized by high amplitude slow waves. We measure those waves using electrodes placed on the scalp. Slow wave sleep is a subtype of NREM (non-REM) sleep. It is also called “N3” sleep. A lot of people think REM sleep is the deepest stage of sleep but the deepest stage is N3 sleep. When we say “deep” sleep what do we actually mean?
The deepest stage is the one that requires the greatest stimulus (sound for example) to awaken someone from sleep.
Deep sleep is what we crave when we are sleep deprived and sleepy.
Deep sleep is a restorative stage of sleep and is concentrated in the first half of the sleep period.
Under normal circumstances about 20% of our sleep is deep sleep but the brain can generate more to make up for periods of short term sleep deprivation. We will continue to talk about stages of sleep, and how to optimize in subsequent posts. Do you have concerns about getting deep sleep?