The Deep Sleep Quest Edition [Mollie's Monday Obsessions v.103]
Deep Sleep is one of the things that I hear the most about when people come to Sleep Is A Skill looking to optimize their sleep.
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“I’m averaging 37 minutes of Deep Sleep!”
I completely get and can relate to the sense that something isn’t right with your sleep and wanting to do something about it. Particularly the allure of the elusive “deep sleep” with all it’s glorious benefits. As the current rock star of the sleep community puts it:
"During deep NREM sleep specifically, the brain communicates a calming signal to the fight-or-flight sympathetic branch of the body’s nervous system and does so for long durations of the night. As a result, deep sleep prevents an escalation of this physiological stress that is synonymous with increased blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke." — Matthew Walker (Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams)
Who wouldn’t want all those benefits (to name a few!)?!
The problem is that if you’re losing sleep over the Deep Sleep readouts (puns) from a tracker that is on your hand or wrist, I’d argue that you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Since 2018, according to Oura, I have nearly doubled my monthly deep sleep averages moving from around 1.5 hours of deep sleep to over 3 hours average for many months.
Here’s the thing, I rarely look at this or any of the sleep stages data.
Most consumer-grade sleep trackers on the market that are not on your head will give you the tracker’s best guess based on a series of biometrics applied to their algorithm. Dreem, a tracker that is on your head, is one of the closest on the market now, but unfortunately, I’ve found that it’s still not there yet for regular daily use (particularly for women with our long hair conundrum!). Not to mention that a polysomnogram, which is the current gold standard, ALSO is not infallible. Instead, it is beholden to the interpretations of a human and, thus, also has its problems, albeit, far superior to what we can currently get for home use at the moment.
So what do we do if we want to improve our Deep Sleep?
If you don’t already have a solid sleep tracker, like the Oura, get one.
Ok, here’s the deal.
Just because consumer-grade trackers are not the most reliable when it comes to sleep stages, they tend to be quite reliable when it comes to detecting sleep in general. You’re outsourcing the old-timey suggestion to “keep a sleep diary” (and if you're concerned about EMFs, there are now sleep trackers that can work in airplane mode). Beyond this, your heart rate, HRV, body temperature, respiratory rate, etc. trends will tell you far more about how the behaviors that YOU are engaging in every single day are impacting your sleep. And with that knowledge, it provides the ability to alter behavior and thereby your sleep results.
“What get measured, get managed” - completely applies to your sleep. Just don’t let it apply to your sleep stages readouts until we have better tech.
Below are more resources to aid in your quest to improve your deep sleep in general, not from consumer metrics.
️♀️Resource: Book, Scientific American, Deep Sleep Gives Your Brain a Deep Clean One aspect of sleep that is well understood is how the slow electrical oscillations (or “slow waves”) that characterize deep, non-REM sleep contribute to memory consolidation, the process whereby new memories are transferred into long-term storage. A new study, from a team led by neuroscientist Laura Lewis of Boston University, now gives insight into what drives cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow through the brain, suggesting that the same slow waves that coordinate memory consolidation drive oscillations in blood flow and CSF in the brain.
Resource: Documentary, Ram Dass, Being Nobody If you’re not familiar with Ram Dass, he was quite the spiritual guru back in the day (who learned from other gurus’) who wrote the book, Be Here Now. Some nice words of wisdom around letting go, something that is very important to sleep. The documentary itself is slow & meditative, so watch it when you’re open to that sort of thing!
The relationship between glucose and sleep is a fascinating one. When you bring stability to this area: sleep, health, and mood improvements tend to follow. Historically, individuals wearing Continuous Glucose Monitors were prediabetic, diabetic, or a fringe group of extreme biohackers (who had finagled a prescription from their doctor!). Nutrisense is one of the few emerging companies looking to change that by removing the obstacle of needing a doctor’s prescription to obtain a monitor for general preventative & optimal health.
Most people don’t know that 𝗴𝗹𝘂𝗰𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗿𝘂𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝗮 𝗰𝗶𝗿𝗰𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗿𝗵𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗺 𝗺𝗲𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗪𝗛𝗘𝗡 (𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁!) 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘀, and in this conversation - can play a very real role in your sleep results. Just one night of acute sleep deprivation can lead to a spike in glucose. Not only that, glucose reliably tends to rise when you’re stressed, and even when women are in their luteal phase. Get ready to learn more about the enthralling world of glucose and sleep!
Glucose and sleep connection
The snowball effect of sleep deprivation and sleep
Why “I have carbs at night; then I'll just pass out” might not be the best sleep strategy
Discussion related to wakeups and glucose
Kara shares most important glucose takeaways
Alcohol, glucose, and sleep
Stabilize blood sugar = less anxiety and increased emotional regulation
Strategies to blunt glucose spikes, including apple cider vinegar, certain supplements, walking after eating, and more
Interesting hits on glucose like stress, workouts, and heat.
As always, please send me your thoughts on this week’s obsession or your current fascinations.
P.S. Fed up with your sleep? Here are four ways I can help you transform your sleep:
1. Subscribe to The Sleep Is A Skill Podcast Get guidance from experts on all things sleep! We’ve got you covered from light, darkness, temperature, sound, meals (type & time), exercise, gadgets, etc.
2. Take our Free Sleep Assessment Receive personalized feedback on where your sleep is at and what it will take to turn it around
3. Check out the Sleep Is A Skill Sleep Resource Recommendations Inspired to transform your sleep but aren’t clear what sort of resources will help? These will help.
4. Book a 15 minute Call We have something for everyone, no matter where you’re at with your sleep. Book a quick call to discuss what the next best steps are for you.
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