Sleep: we all need it, but many of us struggle to get enough of it. It's no surprise, as our highly connected world keeps our lives busier than ever.
Checking out of work, stress, and social media can sometimes feel like an impossible task and can leave our minds feeling a bit too cluttered to fall asleep. But sleep is vital to our overall wellness, and we ideally spend about one-third of our lives doing it.
So how much quality sleep should you be aiming for? And if you’re getting less deep sleep than you really need, what steps can you take to get on the right path?
Here is everything you need to know about sleep science and how much deep sleep you need for good health.
How much sleep does the average person need?
The biggest factor for how much sleep is necessary is age. The younger we are, the more we need for healthy development and sustained energy. More deep sleep releases growth hormone and regulates developmental processes for the brain and body—which is why children need more sleep than adults.
Toddlers typically need as much as 11 to 14 hours, while older adults generally need around seven or more hours of overall sleep nightly.
After age, factors including lifestyle, activity level, and diet can determine whether we need more or less than this rule of thumb. Total sleep time will vary based on working out, stress levels, and whether you’re in a “debt” from sleep deprivation.
If you can’t attain the recommended number of hours of deep sleep each night, be sure to catch up on the weekends or when you get a break in your schedule.
What are the stages of sleep?
Most of us simply experience sleep as the time from when we close our eyes until the time we wake up. But there are several distinct phases of sleep during which our bodies and brains go through changes in electrical and muscular activity.
The sleep cycle is divided into four primary phases. The first three fall under the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) category, and the final phase falls under the rapid eye movement (REM) category. Each night, we cycle through these four phases in 70 to 120-minute intervals.
Let's take a deeper look at what makes each stage of the sleep cycle unique.
Stage 1 is the phase when our minds transition from wakefulness to sleep, and it can be understood as light sleep. Our breathing slows, and our muscles begin to relax. This is the shortest phase of the sleep cycle, lasting only a few minutes. For many adults, stage 1 can be difficult to attain as we combat racing thoughts and feelings of general tension.
However, if you can master sleep hygiene and consistently navigate stage 1, you’ll find it much easier to enter different stages of sleep and get the fulfilling rest you need.
Stage 2 is the longest phase of the sleep cycle when our bodies begin to relax even further. Our heartbeat and breathing slows, and our body temperature drops. In this phase, we also experience sleep spindles and K-complexes, brain waves distinct to the NREM phase of sleep.
This phase is a lighter sleep phase that transitions into deep sleep. It is also believed to play an important role in memory consolidation.
Stage 3, or the deep sleep phase of the sleep cycle, is the final NREM phase of sleep. During this phase, our bodies are fully relaxed, eye movement stops, and our heartbeat and breathing are at their slowest.
Physical regeneration, including tissue growth and repair, cell regeneration, and immune system strengthening, occurs in Stage 3. This is when the body releases growth hormones and other useful chemicals that help us truly restore.
REM sleep is the final phase of the sleep cycle. During this phase, we experience bursts of rapid eye movement, our breathing and heart rates are increased, and our muscles become temporarily paralyzed.
Although dreams can happen in all parts of the sleep cycle, it is during REM sleep that the most intense and vivid dreams happen. This phase is believed to be important to cognitive function, memory retention, learning, and creativity.
What is the deep sleep stage?
Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, is the third phase of the sleep cycle.
During this phase, our brain produces slow and long delta waves. Deep sleep is believed to play an important role in physical restoration, which we will discuss in more detail. More deep sleep means better recovery and fewer health problems, which is why you focus on increasing the amount of deep sleep you get each night.
While we might not have direct control over how much deep sleep we get per night, there are ways to improve sleep hygiene and help prime the body for healthy sleep patterns.
Remember that a lack of deep sleep can lead to long-term sleep deprivation and cause other issues for the body and mind, so this should be a top priority when in developing your sleep habits moving forward.
Are deep sleep and REM sleep the same thing?
Although deep sleep and REM sleep are commonly confused with one another, they are two distinct phases. Deep sleep is characterized by slow delta wave brain activity and difficulty in being awoken, whereas, during REM sleep, we experience a spike in dream activity and eye movement.
You need both types of sleep to fully restore the body and mind each night and feel great the next day, so keep this in mind when setting your sleep schedule and incorporating different habits into your evening routine.
Why is it important to get enough deep sleep and REM sleep?
These two phases get a lot of attention when the sleep cycle is discussed because they are responsible for important mental and physical functions in our bodies.
Deep sleep is sometimes known as the physically restorative phase. During deep sleep, blood flow increases, helping to strengthen our immune system, regenerate cells, strengthen muscles and bones, and restore balance to our metabolism.
REM sleep, on the other hand, can be considered the mentally restorative phase of sleep. Although further research is needed, scientists believe that REM sleep is important in storing memories, balancing mood, and improving learning and creativity.
In short, deep sleep is needed for the body, while REM sleep restores the mind and keeps you mentally strong. Getting adequate deep and REM sleep contributes to overall wellness, including feeling refreshed, focused, and well-rested.
What are some signs of inadequate sleep?
Not getting enough Zzzs can take a toll on our bodies and how we experience our daily life. Most adults experience periods of inadequate sleep from mild to severe, depending on stress levels and life circumstances.
Here are some of the major signs of inadequate sleep:
Let’s be honest—few people wake up immediately feeling ready to hit the ground running without hitting the snooze button at least once (or twice). And although this is a normal experience for many adults, excessive morning tiredness is a sign that you may not be getting enough sleep and need to improve your sleep hygiene.
Signs of morning tiredness include dozing off, microsleeps (falling asleep and waking up after a few seconds), and feeling drowsy even when you want to be ready for the day ahead.
With insufficient sleep, many people experience periods of low energy as they move through their days. Instead of having a pep in our step, we experience moments of sluggishness when it may be difficult to find motivation.
Energy is the key to accomplishing goals, so let this be a motivating factor in mastering your sleep routine.
Having trouble focusing in the morning? This could be a sign that you haven’t been getting enough REM sleep.
Anyone who has experienced sleep deprivation knows that trouble concentrating is one of the most frustrating symptoms. While we may use caffeine and other band-aids to concentrate, the only sustainable solution is simple: more quality sleep.
Although brain fog seems innocuous, it can have some dangerous effects. Studies show that insufficient sleep can cause confusion and reduce response time to stimulus—which is the last thing you want while traveling your morning commute.
While certain practices and supplements can help overcome brain fog, a balanced sleep schedule is a highly-regarded fix to this issue.
How can you support healthy sleep?
Without a doubt, sufficient sleep is fundamental to our wellness. The good news is that you can encourage healthy sleep with some adjustments to your routine and approach.
Here are a few practices that may help you support healthy sleep.
Practice good sleep hygiene
One of the best ways to work towards healthier sleep is practicing proper sleep hygiene. This term, coined in the 1970s, is a set of practices and habits intended to promote better sleep.
These are just a few of the important practices:
Consistent Bedtime: A basic cornerstone of this practice is establishing a regular bed-time and staying consistent with it, on both weekdays and weekends.
Proper Sleep Environment: Make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature, adequately dark, and free of excessive noise. Use earplugs or eye masks if necessary. A clean and comfortable bed is also helpful for drifting off.
Reduce Electronic Use: Limit the use of screens at night, with a hard cutoff of 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. The blue light from screens can make our brains think it is daytime and affect our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Get enough exercise
Getting an adequate amount of daily exercise is not only important for our bodies, but it can also improve sleep quality.
Working out can help improve the length of time we spend in deep sleep and REM sleep—two critical phases for proper mental and physical restoration. Exercise also helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, resulting in more consistent sleep patterns.
Caffeine is an important part of many people’s daily routines, whether it's a cup of tea with breakfast or a latte at the local coffee shop. And although this ritual can give us an added boost first thing in the morning, it can have noticeable effects on our sleep quality.
Consider limiting caffeine to the hours before noon or switching to less caffeine-intensive options like green or oolong tea.
Cannabigerol (CBG), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant can provide a natural, energizing and uplifting alternative to coffee—without feelings of dehydration and jitteriness. CBG gummies for energy may help you move away from caffeine dependence and minimize the “wired” feeling that may deter you from relaxation in the evenings.*
Recent research into cannabinol (CBN), also known as the sleepy cannabinoid, shows the potential to improve sleep quality. This cannabinoid is a byproduct of CBG; as the cannabis plant ages, CBG breaks down into THC before breaking down further into CBN.
It is believed that CBN can help the body reach a level of sleep homeostasis as it binds and interacts with receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that regulate sleep processes. CBN is non-intoxicating, meaning you won’t feel high or disoriented as you wind down from your day. Combined with herbal tea and an intentional evening routine, you’ll find that relaxation and calm may come more easily at bedtime.
With regular use about an hour before bed, our Full Spectrum Rest Gummies can help you get to sleep and stay asleep.*
The bottom line
A healthy sleep routine can have positive ripple effects throughout all aspects of our daily lives. Thankfully—you don’t need to live with sleep deprivation or fear the health effects of lack of sleep over time.
With some changes to lifestyle and habits and incorporating the benefits of hemp into your routine, you may find yourself better able to meet the demands of your day with more energy and focus. Check out our full line of hemp extracts for sleep to reset your schedule and get the quality rest you absolutely need and deserve.