Sleep differs both in quality and quantity. The quantity of sleep is the number of hours one can sleep or the duration of the rest. Regarding sleep quality, we can begin to talk about how deep sleep gets and how refreshing it is after you wake up. As for the quantity of sleep, it is not always directly proportional to sleep quality. In other words, one may have slept for several hours and still not have the same quality as someone who slept for just an hour.
On the other hand, the value of your sleep depends on these two characteristics of sleep. There may be many factors that are responsible for that scenario or condition. But this article will focus on the effects of good sleep and how one can achieve it for healthy sleep hygiene. However, let us begin with what deep sleep is, especially what research has discovered about getting a good quality of sleep and different stages of sleep.
What is a Deep sleep?
Deep sleep refers to the stage of sleep that is associated with the slowest brain wave while one is sleeping. When synchronizing the sleep activity on an EEG graph, there are the slow-wave and the high tides. This slow wave is responsible for relatively high amplitude and a low frequency, usually less than 1Hz.
Similarly, a downstate of the wave is characteristic of an initial section, followed by an inhibition period where the neurons inside the neocortex are now silent and inactive. At this same period, the neocortical neurons can also rest for the next surge of the wave. Afterward, a new section of the wave begins with an upstate, with the neurons excited and happening quickly.
We refer to this phase as depolarizing, while the former state is called a hyperpolarizing phase. When measuring the slow-wave sleep compared to the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep cycle, some of the characteristics of the former are absent with a slow eye movement. Other features of the former include the moderate muscle tone and a lack of genital activity during the period.
Characteristics of a Deep Sleep
When experiencing deep sleep in terms of sleep hygiene, there are a couple of ways to identify it. However, these features depend on the device or measuring tool used, such as
- The Electroencephalograph (EEG) as s tool can demonstrate the delta waves of seep. By the way, delta waves are low frequency and high amplitude waves
- A high arousal threshold of sleep
- Consolidation of memories
- Presumed restoration of the body and the brain
Importance of Deep Sleep to Your Sleep Hygiene
Deep sleep is an essential ingredient for consolidating good and new memories. And this process is called Sleep-dependent Memory Processing. As for the individuals who have primary insomnia, it may be accompanied by a memory consolidation. This condition means that the person may not perform at the optimum level like regular patients in terms of the memory completion tasks after waking up from sleep.
Moreover, the process improves declarative memory during a period of slow-wave sleep. Also, it includes both the semantic and the episodic memory, which all contribute to your overall sleep hygiene. A central model was proposed in the past based on long-term memory storage and use. A neocortical and hippocampal network interaction promotes this activity.
In addition, more studies showed that when the research subjects are taught a process of declarative memory tasks. It returns a high density of human sleep compared to those with a non-learning control memory task. At the same time, this condition is characteristic of unconscious wave oscillations inside the intracellular recordings of the thalamic and cortical neurons of the brain.
Functions of a Deep Sleep
Several research studies have shown that sleep deprivation is a significant issue that several people face in real life. Meanwhile, the multiple uses of deep sleep are to afford the brain a long time to restore from the daily activities it may have gone through. Also, since the brain has been active throughout the day, it is only reasonable to allow its rest through a short sleep wave.
While the brain consumes much glucose through metabolism during the active hours of the day, a different activity occurs when resting. The other function of the brain when we have a deep sleep is that the slow-wave cause the secretion of certain hormones to rise at this stage. On the other hand, this stage also increases parasympathetic neural activity levels. At the same time, the sympathetic neural activity reduces as a result.
The Sleep Disorders that Occur during Deep Sleep
Certain sleep disorders may prevent you from maintaining sleep hygiene during deep sleep. Mainly, these disorders, also called parasomnias, occur most when a slow wave occurs during deep sleep. Examples include Somnambulism, also known as sleepwalking, and sleep terrors, also known as night terrors.
The other ones may include Enuresis, bedwetting, sexsomnia, or even sleep eating. All these disorders are associated with having a short or slow-wave deep sleep. Another deep sleep anomaly is called narcolepsy, which is an experience of fragmented deep sleep.
Factors responsible for the rise in the slow-wave of Deep Sleep
When one continues to have a slow wave in a deep sleep, some particular factors are often responsible. These experiences cause prolonged exercise and heating up of the body. An example is an immersion in a hot tub or a sauna. The most specific cause of this situation is a rise in the brain temperature exceeding a set threshold.
Typically, the circadian rhythm and the homeostatic processes of the body are supposed to regulate the body temperature, including the brain. But when one does not feed so well or runs low on a carbohydrate diet, a healthy person may cause a slow wave to rise in the percentage during sleep. Another factor could be the intake of antidepressant drugs or SSRIs.
When pursuing healthy sleep hygiene, the slow-wave stage of the three stages of sleep is the most important one. Moreover, it forms an essential part of the brain’s cognitive functioning. In addition, it promoted memory consolidation and the restoration of the brain after undergoing some activities. Easy ways to overcome this trouble are through a healthy diet and body and mind exercise. Eventually, you can still enjoy excellent sleep hygiene or lifestyle.