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- 1. Know your caffeine cutoff
- 2. Avoid alcohol before bed
- 3. And large meals
- 4. Get on a consistent sleep cycle
- 5. Cultivate an evening bedtime routine
- 6. Limit blue light and bright light exposure to no more than 1-2 hours prior to bedtime
- 7. Avoid laying there, “trying” to sleep
- 8. Pay attention to temperature
- 9. Take steps to muffle the noise if your partner snores
- 10. Consider supplements
Many people come to Proper seeking more deep sleep, which makes sense...it feels really good to get restful, restorative sleep—especially when that means having more energy the next day. But contrary to what some may believe, our bodies don't actually need that much of it. In fact, research suggests that healthy adults spent just above 20% of their sleep in deep stages, with anything below 10% considered abnormal. (1)
For comparison, here's how much time we spend in other phases and types of sleep:
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep (stage 4)
While the initial phase only lasts about 10 minutes, the periods that follow as you progress through the night become longer and longer—this is why it's important to prioritize a full night's sleep, otherwise you'll be cutting your share of REM sleep short. In total, we spend 20 - 25% of our time here, which equates to roughly 90 minutes over the course of 7 - 8 hours of sleep.
- Light sleep (non-rapid eye movement stages 1-2)
Light sleep actually constitutes the majority of your sleep cycle. Between stages one and two, it's normal to spend upwards of 60% of your time here. (2)
“Understanding these general percentage breakdowns helps people become more realistic about what they are trying to accomplish with their sleep goals, especially if they like to track their sleep," explains Lauren Hoogs, one of Proper's expert sleep coaches. "Many trackers don’t actually give context to what’s normal, so people are left to analyze that data themselves, which leads to misinformed opinions or beliefs about their sleep.”
So what IS deep sleep exactly? Well to start, it takes place during stage 3, during which time it’s difficult to wake up. This is when you get what’s called “delta sleep” or “slow wave sleep” (SWS). The brain is releasing low-frequency, high-amplitude delta waves that cause heart rates and respiration to slow down. The benefit here is for the functioning and restoration of your immune system.
Here are ten tips to help you get more restful, deep, quality sleep so you wake up refreshed.
The half-life of caffeine is 5-6 hours (or longer depending on how fast you metabolize it). Sensitivities vary, but because it’s a stimulant, it may cause difficulties in the onset of sleep if it’s still in the body’s system come bedtime.
One study (3) examining the effects of 400 mg of caffeine 30 minutes before bedtime found that it reduced sleep efficiency 5%, prolonged sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) by 12-16 minutes, and reduced total sleep time by 25 - 30 minutes compared to the placebo group.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend limiting caffeine intake to before 2pm; however, if you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine and/or typically go to bed around 10pm, you wouldn’t want to consume it after 12-1pm in the afternoon (which we acknowledge can be difficult for those craving an afternoon pick-me-up to combat sleepiness).
Although alcohol can be relaxing, it may have adverse sleep effects if consumed too close to bedtime (within 3-4 hours), including fragmented and non-refreshing sleep, increased snoring, delayed onset of REM sleep, and more frequent bathroom awakenings.
Especially high-carb, fried, sugary, and/or spicy ones that engage the digestive system to work on processing the meal, especially when consumed within three hours of bedtime. If you're hungry within that window, try reducing the quantity to a small bedtime snack.
READ MORE: The 15 Best + Worst Foods For Your Sleep
Try your best to go to bed and get up around the same time every day—even on weekends—because the physiological part of our bodies thrive off routine and the consistency of the 24-hour day. If our sleep schedules vary considerably, it can cause confusion for the body and throw off these processes, resulting in feelings of perpetual jet lag that make it difficult to get a good night's sleep.
We hear a whole lot about morning routines that help facilitate a more productive day—whether it be exercising, drinking a full glass of water, meditating, or having a healthy breakfast. But in order to set yourself up for a good start to the day, you have to invest in the end of the day, too. Here’s a list of science-backed (no blue light!) activities to incorporate into your evening routine.
The light receptors in the eyes are linked to the time-keeper in the brain that regulates when we sleep and when we are awake (called the circadian rhythm). Since light indicates wakefulness, we do not want to confuse this signal within 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. If you're unable to nix the electronic devices for whatever reason, use a blue light blocker app or glasses.
If you’re in bed and not sleeping after 20-30 minutes (and not feeling sleepy), then engage in a more restful activity such as reading a non-stimulating book under dim lighting or going to a different room to perform the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Getting out of bed to perform the relaxing activity is ideal, but if this is challenging or impossible, give it a go in bed.
During certain sleep stages, our bodies do not thermoregulate as much, so if your sleep environment is too hot or cold, it can lead to sleep disruptions. Right around bedtime, your body temperature drops 1-2 degrees, which signals to your internal clock that it’s time to hit the hay. We recommend keeping your bedroom at a cool 60 - 67°F.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins, an estimated 45% of adults snore occasionally and 25% regularly. (4) So rest assured that you’re not alone if you yourself snore or if your partner does. Rest assured, though, that all hope is not lost. There are a variety of strategies and tools to get enough sleep—and a good night’s sleep—without resorting to separate rooms, including switching up sleeping positions, listening to calming music, wearing ear plugs, purchasing nasal strips, trying a white noise machine, and more. Learn more in our full guide for snoring sleepers.
Proper supplements were developed in partnership with leading doctors in integrative sleep medicine, clinical psychology, and nutritional biochemistry. They are specially designed to respond differently depending on what stage of sleep you’re in, whether it’s REM (active sleep) or non-REM (quiet sleep), for support throughout the entire night. The result? Not just more sleep, but better quality, deeper sleep that will leave you feeling refreshed and well-rested, not groggy. Browse our full selection of supplements, which goes beyond melatonin to address specific health and sleep needs.
The Proper Guide To Circadian Rhythms
How To Properly Take A Nap: Benefits, Tips, + FAQs
7 Reasons You May Be Tired Even Though It Feels Like You Slept Well (sleep hygiene, sleep disorders, or health conditions)
The Relationship Between Sleep, Memory, + Alzheimer's Risk