Delta Sleep

Last updated: October 21, 2018

What Does Delta Sleep Mean?

Delta sleep, also called slow wave sleep or deep sleep, is an important stage of the circadian rhythms in which many primary biochemical changes occur to promote essential homeostatic functions and processes. This particular stage contributes to regulating cognitive awareness, memory retention, intracellular formation and growth, and organic tissue support. An electroencephalogram (EEG) serves as a baseline metric used to observe delta wave activity in the brain to determine deep sleep patterns in patients.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Delta Sleep

Sleep stages are subdivided into non rapid eye movement (non-REM) and rapid eye movement (REM) cycles where brainwave activity fluctuates between light and heavy sleep intervals. Delta sleep generally happens during stage 3 and stage 4 of the non-REM cycle where physiological actions induce a deep sleep, slowing heart rate, relaxing muscles, and restoring full mental and physical capacity. Although delta sleep decreases with age, many individuals may require polysomnography (sleep testing) to identify any underlying sleep disorders. A doctor will note deep sleep patterns based on corresponding health measurements such as breathing rate, oxygen saturation content, bioelectric activity in the brain, and random body movements (i.e. jerking or twisting).

In many cases, deep sleep disturbances can be corrected through proper sleep hygiene, a nutritious diet, an exercise regimen, and cutting out any stimulants prior to bedtime, such as caffeine. As people age, delta sleep rhythms undermining overall quality of sleep also carries etiological implications potentially linked to Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In the workplace, sleep deprivation is a universal issue, as employees who display visible signs of marked drowsiness may find their fatigue interfering with their job performance.

While the amount of sleep varies among people, busy work schedules can still disrupt otherwise normal deep sleep cycles. Sleep disorders can impose persistent health concerns unless individuals adopt sleep habits coupled with auxiliary recommendations from a doctor to improve delta sleep patterns.


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