How Many Hours of Deep Sleep Does One Need?

In today's highly demanding work environment, it is quite normal to cut back on sleep to achieve your career goals. A common notion is that you will miss out on opportunities if you give sleep much importance in your life. However, that's not the reality. You may not notice it, but even minimal sleep loss will have an impact on your energy, mood and ability to handle stress. And when you talk about the night sleep, the most important phase is deep sleep that plays a role in making you feel fresh in the morning. That brings us to a question, "Exactly how much deep sleep do you need?" Keep reading to find out yourself.

What Is Deep Sleep?

Your body goes through several changes while you're sleeping. The first stage is the non-REM sleep and you then move into stage of REM which stands for "Rapid Eye Movement". Your eyes move quickly in all directions when you're in REM sleep. For non-REM stage, your eyes won't move a lot, and you will go through the following phases.

  • The first phase is when you fall asleep, but it is easy to wake you up. The phase usually lasts up to 10 minutes.
  • You will be in light sleep in the second stage of a non-REM sleep. Your heart rate will come down and so will your body temperature. You will soon enter "deep sleep" phase.
  • You will then enter your deep sleep stage and it's usually harder to wake you up when you're in this stage. It's common to feel disoriented for a few minutes when someone wakes you up from deep sleep. After deep sleep, your brain will become active. This is REM sleep and your brain dreams a lot at that time.

Slow wave sleep, delta sleep, and even N3 all refer to deep sleep. Experts call it delta sleep because they can see low-frequency delta waves in the EEG when you're in deep sleep. In the past, the third stage (deep sleep) was divided into two stages – stage 3 and stage 4 – but they have recently been combined into one and given the name, "N3".

How Much Deep Sleep Do You Need?

Deep sleep plays a big role in lowering your sleep drive that builds gradually over the course of the day. During this stage, your organs detoxicate, your kidneys clean your blood, and your body replaces cells, heals wounds, and builds muscle tissues as well. All this will help recharge your batteries for the next day.

Some studies have shown that your deep sleep should at least be 20% of your overall sleep. It means that since most adults need 8-9 hours of sleep, they will need about 1.6-1.8 hours of deep sleep to feel fully functional next day. However, the time of deep sleep is changed and that's mainly due to the change in the sleep need of different group of people. For instance:

Age Group

Sleep Requirement (Hour)

Deep Sleep Needed (Hour)

Newborn to months



3 months to 1 year old



1 to 3 years old



3 to 5 years old



5 to 12 years old



12 to 18 years old



over 18 years old



9 Tips to Achieve Deep Sleep

Now you have already known the answer to the question "How much deep sleep do you need?" It is equally important to learn how you can achieve deep sleep regularly.

  • Follow a transition routine: Make a habit of doing something before going to bed that tells your body it's time to relax and sleep. It could simply be washing your face, taking a shower, or even brushing your teeth.
  • Select the right pillow: Some studies show that using a neck pillow that comes in a rectangle shape with a depression in the middle can enhance your sleep quality. A pillow with two supported cores will also help you fall asleep.
  • Eat a banana: End your day by eating a banana. It contains tryptophan, a sleep hormone that can improve your sleep quality when taken before going to bed.
  • Take a hot bath: Your body will relax quickly if you take a hot bath, but you need to take it at least 90-120 minutes before you go to sleep. Also, make sure the water temperature is around 40 degree Celsius.
  • Wear your pajamas: Instead of sleeping naked, you should wear your pajamas to keep your skin warm, which plays a role in lowering your blood circulation and sending signals to your brain that it's sleep time. Just don't wear too much stuff because your body undergoes a few cool-warm cycles throughout the night.
  • Don't sleep with pet in the bed: Pets have a different sleep-wake cycle than humans, so sleeping with your pets will keep you from having enough deep sleep.
  • Give yourself a pampering massage: Use your fingertips to massage your eyes in a slow, circular motion. Then move down to your mouth and then your neck. Continue moving down your body until you feel relaxed and ready to sleep.
  • Sprinkle lavender water on your bed sheets and pillowcases: The lavender scent makes you feel relax and helps you go to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
  • Enjoy an audio book: Instead of reading, consider listening to an audio book on tape or your phone. This will soothe your brain and relax your nerves. 
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