Getting deep sleep
December 7, 2020 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Looking to improve quality of sleep

I sleep a lot and have my whole life. If I don't get 8 to 9 hours I am a mess and get all the colds.

Earlier this year I got a fitbit and determined that it doesn't seem likely that I am having sleep apnea, there is no indication of that. What I have noticed is that I very rarely get more than 45 mins of deep sleep.

I don't drink alcohol, I do drink caffeine, but since the deep sleep usually occurs immediately when I fall asleep I don't really see that it is affecting me that way. I also fall asleep almost immediately.

I wanted to blame my kids, dogs, and sleeping partner but I've been sleeping separately and it is basically the same. I am awake less but the deep sleep part never changes. The only thing that helps is either going to bed at 8 or sleeping 10 to 11 hrs.
posted by aetg to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I also have a fitbit and monitor my sleep phases. The highest fraction of deep sleep I have ever achieved was after I did a bedtime yoga routine (this one). I know "try yoga" is a cliché and I'd love to say it doesn't work, but here we are.
posted by Cheese Monster at 4:50 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Try a weighted blanket.
posted by saturdaymornings at 5:00 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Anecdotal, but you should test drive a full caffeine washout for a week or two. My sister's an NP in a sleep clinic, and I'm a toxicologist, and we both agree on this (in her clinic, no one is prescribed sleep meds until, as a baseline, they've demonstrated a willingness to measure/limit/eliminate caffeine to experience the effect measure). At her urging, while I was Going Through Some Things and had developed insomnia, I eliminated caffeine from February until December of 2019. Holy moly, it made an almost surreal difference. I've since reintroduced it, but at a fraction of the amount I previously consumed. Caffeine is a very real and relevant actor in the drama that is sleepfulness and wakefulness.

Sleep researchers have gone on record rolling eyes at the Fitbit approach to classifying "deep sleep," but not *all* researchers. If you think you have an actual phasic sleep problem, though, and it persists after taking whatever basic at-home interventions you care to explore, it's something to bring up with your doctor.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:29 PM on December 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've recently upgraded my sports watch to one that does lots of fancy stuff, including sleep tracking. Similarly: I tend to get ~30 mins deep sleep, mostly at the start of my 8hr night. I've noticed the amount of deep sleep increases maybe up to ~45mins on nights following a heavier exercise day. So, echoing @Cheese Monster with the suggestion to try some type of exercise to promote sleep quality. I also do yoga, but I find long run days more impactful on my deep sleep-- my guess is because my body more needs the recovery on those days.

I'm not totally convinced that watch sleep data == sleep quality. My watch is a fairly expensive, new model Garmin FWIW, so I don't question the tech so much as it's ability to reflect the whole picture of my sleep.
posted by tamarack at 5:31 PM on December 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Exhaust yourself physically more often, if you don't already. Put more demands on your muscles and skeleton, work on your stamina. How to do that can of course be it's own whole question, but in case it helps I like to work exercise into my mundane life. Run up the stairs. Lift that heavy thing four times instead of one. Walk and bike to places instead of drive, do cleaning chores aerobically, etc.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:31 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: This podcast with Matt Walker, Ph.D. on Sleep has lots of good info. Youtube links, but you can find in podcatcher.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Some stuff that I gathered from other multiple source that might help: limit devices after 7, limit caffeine intake after 2pm, melatonin supplements, room temp (should be colder). But really, listen to the podcast.
posted by pyro979 at 5:57 PM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have found recently that going to bed much later than normal increases the amount of deep sleep whilst decreasing the amount of sleep I need overall - I used to need at least 8 hours, but it would always be broken sleep and I’d feel really exhausted all the time; now it’s down to about 5 hours, but I’m much more alert and less foggy.
posted by heyjude at 6:19 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Exercise, meditation, and reduced stress, generally, helps get my fitbit deep sleep total higher. We I am doing all these right, I get about 90 minutes total through the night. The longest I think I've had is maybe 2.5 hours, but that was after being up maybe 36 hours, and being asleep for 9 or 10 (normally 7 to 8).
posted by chiefthe at 6:31 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: Respectfully, you can't rule out sleep apnea or other sleep disorders with a fitbit. Go to a sleep doctor. I refused to for years because I thought I knew how sleep apnea worked. I was wrong. So I speak from experience here: you do not know what you think you know about sleep disorders. See someone who does.
posted by medusa at 8:35 PM on December 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: this changed my life. i have literally never slept so well and awakened so rested.

- walk 30min daily (brisk walk, not a stroll)
- humidifier
- 10mg melatonin, 1 hr before bed (this is a higher end dose, i just went up from five and it made *such* a difference)
- no eating at night (being hungry helps wake me up)

i have MDD and have had sleep issues for 30 years. this combination is the first and only "cocktail" that ever changed anything.

the magic ingredient seems to have been the right amount of melatonin. it was the final tweak to the formula.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:37 PM on December 7, 2020

Best answer: I don’t see ear plugs or eye masks* mentioned anywhere. These both help me sleep deeper.

I have no sleep issues otherwise.

* I use a Buff
posted by gregglind at 7:42 PM on December 9, 2020

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