Your Ultimate Guide On How To Get Deep Sleep

Created by Elly McGuinness

Last Updated: October 11, 2020

CATEGORIES: Holistic Health

If you want to know about the factors affecting sleep, how to get deep sleep, and how to sleep longer, you have come to the right place.  If you are a mom struggling with sleep, I feel your pain.  There is sometimes only ‘so much’ you can do if you’ve got babies or young kids keeping you up at night.  However, I hope that the following tips will help you to get a better sleep than you have been experiencing.

Most of us understand that sleep is essential for both psychological and physiological repair to occur in our bodies, and it is likely we have all experienced the consequences that can result from not getting enough of it.  As a mom of two, and a person who has suffered from severe insomnia, this is a topic close to my heart!

In this post, you’ll learn all about the main factors affecting sleep, what to do when you can’t sleep at night, and how to get deep sleep. Here are some simple, practical solutions that can help lead you towards a more restful night.

(This post includes affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase)

The importance of good quality sleep

Numerous studies highlight the importance of getting good quality sleep on a regular basis. The CDC recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night for adults, and for good reason.

An estimated 50-70 million Americans experience disordered sleep and wakefulness, which can affect day to day functioning, and also have a negative impact on long term health.

In one study, chronic restriction of sleep periods (4 or 6 hours per night over 14 consecutive days) had a significant, negative impact on cognitive performance related tasks. The effects were cumulative and showed that even relatively moderate sleep deprivation can seriously impair daytime functioning.

Chronic insomnia in older adults has also been associated with impaired cognitive functioning.

factors affecting sleep and how to get deep sleep-woman lying on bed

All phases of the sleep cycle are important

Each phase of the sleep cycle rejuvenates the brain for optimal function. When a person is deprived of sleep, toxic build-up in the brain can show up in behavior, and impaired judgment and cognitive abilities.

Deep, non-REM sleep offers incredible and important benefits for health, including the ability to cleanse the brain. Brain cleansing primarily happens when we sleep, by washing away toxins and waste. Studies highlight the relationship between poor quality sleep and cognitive impairment in older adults, and the link with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Sleep deprivation and the obesity epidemic

A meta-analysis of studies showed consistent links between short sleep duration and obesity. The combination of inadequate sleep, disruption to physiological rhythms, and suppression of melatonin are contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Quality and quantity of sleep significantly predict the risk of the development of type 2 diabetes. There is a series of hormonal changes that take place in the body when you are lacking in sleep. These hormonal changes are highly likely to affect your food choices the day after a poor night’s sleep.

A lack of sleep can certainly negatively impact your ability to lose weight I cover this off in a full chapter of my holistic weight loss book, burning fat for good.

You can also listen to my short interview with fitness professional Tom Downs about how sleep affects your ability to burn fat. Subscribe to my YouTube channel while you’re there! If you also want to be notified when I post new videos like this, click on the bell icon.

How to get deep sleep, or at least ‘better’ sleep

1. Tips for deep sleep | Mind your Caffeine intake

If you want to know how to get deep sleep, this is an important point to pay attention to.  How does caffeine affect sleep?  It’s a stimulant so it can prevent you from getting deep, restorative sleep. Caffeine has a long half-life, which means that traces of your morning coffee could still be in your system by evening time. This could make it difficult for you to sleep. 

A review and meta-analysis of the relationship between alcohol consumption and sleep apnea found that higher levels of alcohol increased the risk of sleep apnea.

Some people won’t experience trouble sleeping after consuming caffeine. Some may even be able to drink coffee in the evening and still sleep well. However, if you are reading this post because you have trouble sleeping, it’s worth looking at your caffeine intake. Anyone who has trouble sleeping should consider avoiding caffeine after midday.  People who are particularly sensitive should consider gradually eliminating it altogether. 

If you feel you must drink caffeine-containing beverages, stick to one in the morning.  Green tea, black tea, and chocolate also contain caffeine, but they have lower amounts than coffee.

factors affecting sleep and how to get deep sleep-person under covers with arm poking out

2. Tips for deep sleep | Beware of Alcohol

Again, if you are asking how to get deep sleep, this point is also very important.  Although it might help you to fall asleep, it can cause you to have a restless sleep.  If you have trouble with sleep, consider avoiding alcohol altogether.  It can prevent you from reaching a deep sleep state, which your body needs for restorative purposes.

A review across all known studies on the impact of alcohol on sleep in healthy volunteers offered the following insights:

  • Alcohol may result in falling asleep faster, but it can result in restless sleep during the second half of the night.
  • High doses of alcohol can also result in a significant reduction in REM sleep in the first part of the night.
  • Although low doses of alcohol may not affect the total amount of REM sleep over a night, the onset of the first REM sleep can be delayed across low, medium, and high doses of alcohol.

3. Tips for deep sleep | Mind your Stress

High levels of ongoing stress can keep you up at night.  Find ways to keep stress to a minimum.  Try taking regular breaks during the day and at least 30 minutes of ‘me’ time every day.  Do things that you find relaxing.  Some examples could include yoga, meditation, going for a walk, reading a book, or taking a bath.  Find out here if stress is always bad for your health.

factors affecting sleep, how to get deep sleep

4. Tips for deep sleep | Get some sunlight

Try to get 20 minutes each day to help regulate serotonin, which can help you get a deep sleep.  This involves getting outdoors during the daytime!  Find out more about the benefits of the great outdoors here.

5. Tips for deep sleep | Get off your devices!

Do you still want to know more about how to get deep sleep? Light suppresses melatonin in humans, with blue light being shown to have the biggest impact. Blue light has also been shown to increase alertness more than other colors.

One study from December 2019 determined that blue light may not be as disruptive as originally thought. Scientists say this is because blue light is both dimmer and bluer than daylight. Therefore, changing screen colors to yellow tones could send the body mixed messages because it’s more similar to daylight. Experts say that blue colors have a weaker effect than the white or yellow light of equivalent brightness. However, the study was conducted on mice, which are nocturnal. So it’s unclear whether similar conclusions would be drawn in human studies.

There is plenty of scientific research to confirm the disruption of melatonin production with exposure to blue light. Part of the problem with blue light could also be a result of the potential for devices like smartphones and TV’s to whittle away more time than you realize with mindless activities and keep the brain awake.

A small study of 20 adults found that those wearing amber (blue-blocking) lenses experienced improved sleep quality relative to the control group.

Turn off all electronic devices and bright lights three hours before you plan to sleep.  If you ‘must’ use your device(s) late in the evening, then consider downloading f.lux or a similar app to your device.  This will help remove the blue light from your device that may be affecting your sleep.

6. Tips for deep sleep | Chamomile tea

Drink this in the evening instead of a caffeinated tea or alcoholic beverage and reap the benefits of its relaxing properties. Chamomile and lavender can be used on their own or together to help you relax before bedtime.

7. Tips for deep sleep | Podcasts

This goes against the advice in point five but it can be very useful for someone who is really struggling to fall asleep.  Once you’ve decided on a few specific podcast episodes to help you get to sleep, download those episodes. That way you can pop your device into flight mode and listen to the episode without any disruptions from messages or signals from your smartphone.

I personally find podcasts helpful for me in the evening.  First download a podcast platform (I use ‘Podcast addict’ on my Android phone which you can get from the Google Play store here) and then use keywords to find a meditation podcast.  One I recommend is called ‘The Meditation Podcast’ by Jesse and Jeane Stern. 

Another with a completely different approach is the ‘sleep with me’ podcast.  This is basically a guy with a really boring voice who tells a lulling, droning bedtime story to distract your racing mind.  I found it hilarious when I first turned it on…but it worked for me!

factors affecting sleep and how to get deep sleep-woman and puppy sleeping on bed

8. Tips for deep sleep | Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythm and provides the body’s internal signal of darkness. It plays an important role in various aspects of health, including as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Melatonin triggers the onset of sleep.

A tart cherry juice or another melatonin supplement may be useful but will likely only work if you are actually low in melatonin.  If you want to know where to buy tart cherry juice, check out Iherb.  They offer a large range of tart cherry juice and other supplements to help you get better sleep.  Check with your natural health practitioner if you are not sure which ones might be right for you.

9. Tips for deep sleep | Exercise

High self-perceived exercise exertion before bed is not necessarily associated with an inability to fall asleep. One study of 52 regularly exercising young adults found that high exertion exercise was associated with improved sleep, including more deep sleep, a shorter time to fall asleep, and decreased light sleep.

Getting daily exercise can be an important way to tire the body sufficiently for sleep.  As the study I linked to above alluded to, exercise in the evening isn’t going to be a problem for everyone. However, if you have trouble sleeping, ensure any intense exercise is done in the morning and see if it makes a difference for you. 

You can listen to health and fitness expert Pascale Hennessey talk about the best time of day to exercise in this three minute video. 

For more information about exercise, check out some of my blogs in the ‘physical fitness’ category. Maybe you could start with this simple playground workout or download my free bodyweight exercise pdf via the button below.

If you’re feeling tired due to lack of sleep you also need to understand whether it’s a good idea to exercise at all.

10. Tips for deep sleep | Reflexology

Reflexology is a holistic therapy that may be useful for health issues such as stress, fatigue, and quality of sleep. Pressure is applied to specific points of the feet or hands. These points are purported to correspond to specific organs in the body.

The great news is that there are some simple reflexology techniques that are specific to sleep. Melanie is a qualified reflexologist and she shares three reflexology points you can find on your own hands to help you ease into a night of restorative sleep

11. Tips for deep sleep | Use a natural, specially designed sleep formula

I have already mentioned the value of chamomile and melatonin as part of a natural approach for a better night’s sleep. Life Seasons has a wonderful, natural sleep formula that combines the relaxing properties of melatonin and chamomile with GABA, valerian and passion flower.

This combination of natural ingredients can help calm the nervous system and support a natural sleep cycle, without the use of pharmaceuticals. Life Seasons also offer a melatonin-free option for those who cannot tolerate melatonin.

Click on one of the links below to find out more about Life Season’s Rest-ZZZ and purchase. Also, as an ambassador for Life Seasons,’ I can offer you a nice 15% off your order if you purchase through my affiliate link below. Just enter the promo code “Elly” at checkout!

Purchase Life Seasons Rest-ZZZ

Purchase Life Seasons Rest-ZZZ Melatonin free

12. Tips for deep sleep | Manage your mindset

The placebo effect is a well-known phenomenon, usually in the context of a specific medical treatment. It is essentially related to the individual’s mindset, and their perception about the effect of that treatment. This concept can be extended to other lifestyle concepts, such as sleep.

One study on the placebo effect associated with sleep found that by assigning participants to either an “above average” or “below average” sleeping condition, their scores could be accurately predicted on certain cognitive tests. The quality of sleep that a person believes they have had has the potential to both positively and negatively influence their cognitive state. Ultimately, this offers insights about the connection between a person’s mindset and aspects of their health.

I have personally used the power of a positive mindset as it relates to sleep. I have instilled some important beliefs around insomnia. One belief is “My energy levels are not related to the amount of sleep I have had”. This helps me to function effectively and get on with my day the night after I have experienced insomnia. If I dwell on the fact that I haven’t had sleep and that it’s crucial for my optimal health and wellbeing, it can send me into a negative pattern of thought and make me feel worse than I need to.

13. Tips for Deep sleep | Give it time

If you are in a poor sleep habit and have been for some time, it may take weeks or months to reset your habits.  If you seriously want to know how to get deep sleep, how to sleep longer, or just how to get better sleep in general, be consistent with the points above, and sleep will follow.

Further reading about how to get deep sleep

My holistic weight loss book “Burning fat for good” also covers a whole chapter on sleep, since a lack of sleep can negatively impact your ability to lose weight. If you want to know how to get more deep sleep and you’d also like a diet-free approach to weight loss, you can purchase my book in either paperback or kindle format.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these recommended service provider links, like an insurance broker, or a travel agent, I may earn a commission – at no extra cost to you. [For my full disclosure, please see my DISCLAIMER page].

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Elly McGuinness

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