Deep Sleep: What is it and how to get more of it.

February 8th, 2016 by Cheryl Sherwood

By,  Elizabeth Kayfish,  Athletic Mentors Coach

Deep sleep, also known as slow wave sleep, is the combination of stage 3 and 4 of your sleep cycle. During this time your body is calm and has no muscle or eye movements2.  This type of restorativdeep-sleepe, restful sleep
comes right
before your REM cycle, and getting a good dose of deep sleep is important because tissue repair is at its fastest during this time4. Many people who find themselves not feeling rested after the night have missed
out on the essential deep sleep. Although the hormones responsible for this type of sleep lessen as you get older, research studies have found a few alternatives to increase your time in this stage4.  Here are so tips so you can feel a little more refreshed in the morning!

  1. Stay away from the alcoholic beverages before bed to ensure you reach your full sleep potential. Alcohol, which often tends to make one fall asleep fast, prevents deep sleep from occurring2.
  2. Exercise is the cure all! Several studies have shown that exercising, both anaerobically and aerobically, can increase the amount of time you are in deep sleep. A good workout and an a
    ctive lifestyle can promote deep sleep length; just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime4.
  3. Have some naturally scented lavender soaps, lotions, candles and/ or oils around before bed. Sensory therapy, like aromatherapy, has been shown to improve one’s night rest. A recent study showed increases in the percentage of deep sleep in a night after the use of lavender oils3.
  4. Keep the carbohydrates light at dinner and before bed. Studies have shown that compared to a carbohydrate heavy meal 4 hours before bed, a very light carbohydrate meal increased the percentage of time in deep sleep cycles1.
  5. Try to eliminate stressors throughout your day and before bed. You cannot control the age-related factor of decreasing deep sleep with age, but you can create a stress-free environment before you go to sleep to counter the effect. Try to have a regular pre-bedtime schedule and unwind with a bath, book, or soothing music5.




  1. Afaghi, A., O’Connor, H., and Chow, C.H. (2008). Acute effects of the very low carbohydrate diet on sleep indices. Nutr. Neurosci. 11: 146-154.
  2. Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from
  3. Goel, N., Hyungsoo, K., and Lao, R.P. (2005). An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiology International: The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research, 22, 5. DOI: 10.1080/07420520500263276
  4. Sleepdexorg. (2016). Sleepdexorg. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from
  5. The Mysterious Benefits of Deep Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from