What is deep sleep and how much do we need of it?

I started self-measuring with the Jawbone Up 10 days ago. The amount of deep sleep I was getting immediately caught my eye. Here’s the data from one of the first nights:

Jawbone_UP

 

Straight away I noticed that deep sleep was just 30% of my overall sleep.

It seemed too little to me and while this was my worst night, my deep sleep never climbed above 38%.

So I started wondering: How much deep sleep should I get? What exactly is it? What does it do for me?

Searching for answers

Finding the answers was surprisingly difficult. The major obstacle was to understand how the Jawbone UP defines deep sleep in the first place.

Here’s the problem:

The Jawbone Up (like Sleep Cycle and similar apps) measures our movements and divides them into two phases:

  1. Light sleep: when you move more
  2. Deep sleep: when you move less

But this is different from the scientific definition with four (sometimes five) phases.

Let’s see how they compare:

Phase 1

You slowly settle in to sleep.

  • Your muscles relax.
  • You have light dreams.
  • Typical ratio of overall sleep: 5%

And the Jawbone UP?
You move quite a bit: it registers this as light sleep.

Phase 2:

The second phase of light sleep.

  • Your breathing and heart rate slow down.
  • Your body temperature drops a little but your body remains relatively active.
  • Typical ratio of overall sleep: a whopping 50%.

And the Jawbone Up?
You still move markedly during this phase: the Jawbone registers these movements as light sleep.

Phase 3:

This is the ‘official’ deep sleep-phase.

  • Your heart and breathing slow further.
  • Your muscles relax and your body hardly moves.
  • Your brain is much less active now: you don’t dream.

And the Jawbone UP?
We hardly move during this phase so the Jawbone UP measures it for what it is: deep sleep.

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What happens during deep sleep?

During deep sleep, all energy goes into recharging your batteries: Your kidneys clean your blood, your organs detoxicate, cells are replaced, wounds heal, muscle tissue builds up. Moreover, you consolidate your memories.

Get too little deep sleep and your immune system weakens. Over the long run you may suffer fatigue, apathy and even depression.

Sounds like I want to get enough of that. But how much should it be?

Here’s a surprise: a healthy dose of deep sleep is about 20% of overall sleep. That’s less than I thought.

If this is the case, then even my worst night with 30% would be way above the norm. If we only had three phases, I needn’t worry. But there’s a fourth phase and this is where things get interesting:

Phase 4 (REM sleep):

In REM-sleep the brain gets active again. It’s as active as during the day: we dream intensively during this phase.

It’s not exactly known what REM-sleep does for us but it seems to play a key role in storing memories and balancing our moods – nothing I’d want to tinker with. And 25% of overall sleep is the healthy norm.

But where does it count? Does the Jawbone Up register REM as deep or light sleep?

REM is a paradoxical phase. The name stands for Rapid Eye Movement: our brain is active and our eyes are too. But our limbs are not. We secrete hormones that effectively put us in a narcotic state: like in deep sleep, our body lies still!

And this can only mean one thing:

The Jawbone UP registers REM-sleep as deep sleep. It cannot keep the two apart: it doesn’t look into your eyes and it doesn’t measure your brain activity (you’d need an EEG for that).

So there we go: deep sleep on the Jawbone is both REM- and the real deep sleep.

Let’s look at the ideal ratios again:

  • Deep Sleep 20% + REM sleep 25% =  45%.

It’s a bit of a shocker. With 30% in the worst and 38% in the best night, I’m quite a way off. But I have my target now: I want to up my deep sleep to 45% in the next 10 days.

Will I manage? I’ll report about it here.

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Content writer at Addapp. I write about exercise and productivity. I’m obsessed about tennis. Off the court, I also help people rediscover their love for writing.

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142 Comments

  1. Very interesting stuff. I, too, have just begun using the Up Jawbone. I snore like crazy, and have some degree of apnea, but do NOT want to wear a Cpap machine. I am just beginning to understand the whole sleep cycle thing…your explanation is terrific. I’m going to look into my % of deep/REM sleep.

    1. It wasn’t easy to figure out the difference between REM and Deep Sleep and I am really glad that you find this helpful Holly. Should you feel like it, let us know if and when the Jawbone Up is helping you with your sleep! It could be interesting to share that with other users.

      1. thank you so much for explaining sleep. I too have the Jawbone and I love it…..I also love my sleep Most weeks I’m good at getting 8 hours and I rarely wake up in the night. I was definitely concerned about the lower deep sleep numbers and googled to see how I could increase this number then found this site. Appreciate all the comments and I’m now not as concerned as I was………….Thanks and to all Happy Deep sleeping.

        1. I think you are only deluding yourself because the Bone doesn’t distinguish REM sleep from deep sleep so you may be getting less than optimal deep sleep but you wouldn’t know from the Bone data.

          1. I just got a Jawbone UP and it does distinguish between min. of REM and min. of Deep sleep.

      2. This has been the clearest explanation on net so far! Thanks for sharing it. I might share my sleep data if you thinks it’s going to be any of help. I’ve an UP3 which I’ve been trying for a week. New yet more to come.

      3. I use a Garmin Forerunner which detects the heart rate as well as movements. It consistently detects 4-5 hours of deep sleep which is usually 60-70 per cent of my sleep time. I wonder how accurate these different technologies are. I am definitely satisfied to believe that I get that much deep sleep, whether or not its real.

    2. How do you intent to get more deep and REM sleep? More excersise, kick the dogs out.?? Take melatonin before bed?
      My sleep is all over the map and I’m tired all the time so I’m wondering what options there are??

    3. Debbie Armstrong

      CPAP is the only thing that helped improve my sleep. I use a air P10 nasal pillow and I don’t even know it is there.

  2. You can get “deep sleep” to >90% quite easily: Just sleep no more than 3-4h each night for a few days :-)

    1. Hi Eric,
      have you actually tried this?
      For a moment, I was tempted to include this in my little experiment!

      1. It appears to be well established that lack of deep sleep makes you to skip right to deep sleep instead of going through the lighter sleep phases first (read e.g. “The Promise of Sleep” by William C. Dement).

        I haven’t been able to untangle the relationships around my sleep, there’s just too many variables, and not enough data! But if I do figure out something, I’ll post the results on http://blog.zenobase.com/ :-)

        1. I have to say… I have looked back at my app and the shorter amount of time I sleep, the more deep sleep I get. It’s very strange.

        2. I am obsessed with sleep factor of Jawbone’s UP and have referred to to many people over the fitbit (which at the time only told me how many times I woke up during the night based on movement – I’ve had the jawbone for a year this October). I can’t seem to stay asleep during the night..what are other people’s numbers? Also- my deep sleep is low, I was so happy when I clicked this link and saw Carsten’s screenshot!

        3. I don’t reccomend skipping deep sleep in order to get more deep sleep. What happens is your body, when sleep deprived, sacrifices REM sleep for deep sleep. So then you’re likely to have issues with memory and learning due to that, and you end up getting worse, not better, quality of sleep.

    2. It’s not a bad idea 😉 I need to do office at night shift for some weeks. I cannot sleep timely after my night shift. Therefore, I sleep less during the weekend and it’s works for me. :)

  3. Thanks Eric. I’ve been sleeping 4-5 hours lately and it doesn’t work that way :-). I’ll report my findings from Jawbone as well soon…! Thanks for sharing btw

  4. If you really want to track your sleep patterns there are new products (masks) coming out this year that will be great at tracking almost everything (eye movements, EEG, and other stuff). Not as comfortable as wearing a wrist band but much more precise. Here’s an article about some that are coming out: http://dreamstudies.org/2014/02/05/lucid-dream-masks-wearable-tech-devices/

  5. Hi Jonas,
    I hadn’t heard of these.
    Having a device that accurately measures the different phases of sleep would just be great: I hope they hit the market soon!

    1. hopefully affordable

    2. What about whittings?

    3. Andrea de Aguayo

      Hi,
      I just read your article and it was written very clear. Thank you. I have been using the Sleep app on my android and my smartwatch. It distinguishes between light sleep, remember, and deep sleep cycles. It also shows your movement and records noise, to help you monitor if you’re sleeping or if there are outside noises interrupting our sleep. I also began to drink nightly calm from Twinning before going to sleep and noticed a slight increase in my deep sleep cycles. I then began taking Niacin (no- flush type) to detox my body while I sleep and I’m now between 40-50% deep sleep cycles per night. I hope my info helps.

  6. I can not thank you enough for writing this! I also have an up and have been searching for this information.

    1. Thanks for mentioning it Candy.
      It’s good to know that the article is helpful.
      Carsten

      1. Thanks so much to write this. I sleep 7h to 8 hours a day but only get 20 min deep sleep and maybe 1 hour REM with my jawbone.

  7. Very helpful information. I just started using the UP 24. This morning I put in power nap mode as wanted a little more sleep; spent 1 hr of 1 hr 15 minutes in deep sleep. Guess I needed it.

    1. Yes Sharon,
      I’ve repeatedly made this experience now too: I’ll fall into deep sleep really fast when I lack it.

  8. I am a 79 year old male and averaging 4h 32m for a week of sound sleep on my Jawbone. But seem to dream. I thought walking to build up my steps was making the sound sleep figure good but how much Rem sleep would one expect in the Sound sleep figure?

  9. Hi John,
    deep sleep (the scientific version) is normally about 20% of overall sleep while REM is about 25% of overall sleep.
    This would mean that REM makes (just) over half of ‘sound sleep’ on the Jawbone.
    By the way, the ratio of REM-sleep gets bigger towards the morning. Also, REM sleep seems to get less with age: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/aging-and-sleep

    1. With my Jawbone UP 3, most nights it registers NO deep sleep and sometimes NO deep sleep and NO REM sleep either. I know I sleep terribly, but can it really be that bad? Maybe you have some suggestions? Is my Jawbone not registering effectively or maybe some other issue?

      1. Hi Andrea,
        my first guess here is that this is technical problem. I am not a scientist or medical professional but I don’t think it is actually possible to sleep without deep and / or REM sleep.

  10. Folks, please do not listen to this author. He is not a medical professional, his numbers are off, and the Jawbone device is *not* capable of tracking the different stages of sleep. See this article on Huff-Post.com (written by an doctor who specializes in sleep research) for the results of a head-to-head comparison of the different sleep-tracking devices. The article shows that the Jawbone device cannot accurately track the stages of sleep:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/sleep-tips_b_4792760.html
    The Jawbone claims to be able to differentiate between the sleep stages, but it performed terribly in a head-to-head test against other devices. You’re better off going with the “Basis Chrome”, for $199. This device measures pulse, temperature, and perspiration, and according to the article, performed fabulously compared to other devices that use only an accelerometer.

    1. Jonathan,

      I don’t believe the jawbone was EVER meant to replace sleep tests…ever. what it is good for is to raise awareness of your sleep and use it to determine if a real sleep test should be sought.

    2. He states he only collected 1 night of data. That hardly seems sufficient to declare a winner which he also clearly states at the end of his article. It sounds like you’re either a disgruntled Up user or just a troll.

    3. Niki_the_scientist

      The guy who wrote this is not a scientist maybe but he described his experience, which is enough for most people. He also did his research online. It might not be scientific, but still, it’s the way he sees it. Quoting huffington post as a scientific proof 😜 that’s not the way to convince anyone.. If you want to be sure of what’s been studied and the results, you need to read peer reviewed scientific journals, not search the web.

    4. Bharat Vishwakarma

      His post is only for sharing his experience.
      Ita absolutely personal whether to believe it or not.
      We had been doing many things just because some one know to us has done it and its effects are withing our espectation.
      Your warning is out of place and irrelevant.
      If we dont share we will not get the feed back. Its important.

  11. I got my Up24 to help monitor my health and sleep. I’ve noticed that I sleep less than I thought each night. My doctor suggested a sleep study but thanks to this info I’m going to see if I can get more hours of sleep, track type of sleep and feel better when I wake. Thanks

    1. I have the up band but also just went in for a sleep study. I don’t get enough sound sleep and find myself waking up throughout the night. I’ve tried different techniques to get better sleep (exercise, no caffeine, bed earlier, bed later, diet change) and nothing has helped. I usually get one good night of deep sleep in a 20 day period. The sleep study was not my favorite, very overwhelming but I’m hopeful that I will get some answers. If you can’t improve your sleep on your own I would suggest doing the sleep study, they track a lot more variables than the up band does. Actually, I got one of my better nights sleep during the sleep study even though I was very nervous. Hope this helps.

      1. Kaycee,
        did you wear your Up-band during the sleep study. It would be interesting to know how it performed compared to the sleep study-results.

        1. I had a sleep study done recently and wore my UP3 during it. The band did a good job of tracking compared to my sleep study results. It was reasonably accurate about when I fell asleep, when I entered deep sleep and for how long, (very little for me, as I have sleep apnea) and how much REM sleep I got. It was also reasonably accurate with the number of sleep cycles.

          Overall I was actually impressed with the bands ability to track sleep as compared to the highly accurate sleep study.

      2. Bharat Vishwakarma

        You must practice self hypsosis .thats the natural and only effective way.

  12. I’ve been confused with how Up tracks my REM sleep too. Jawbone’s website (http://jawboneuptips.blogspot.com/2013/09/how-does-jawbone-up-track-sleep.html?m=1) claims that REM is light sleep, suggesting that they register that as light sleep. On the other hand, non-REM (including all 4 stages) are deep sleep. This is different from how you described it. However, I agree with your logic because Up tracks your movement so it should register REM as deep sleep and some REM as light and some as deep. I’m not sure if they just put wrong info out there or they actually have the ability to distinguish REM from non-REM.

    1. I don’t think the blog you link to is an official Jawbone page.
      It seems to me that it is someone else giving tips about the Up.

      1. … and it’s good to avoid this kind of articles which are not trustable.

  13. This article is really helpful in getting an information about how the body reacts while sleeping mode. I got plenty of benefits from http://www.SleepWellSecrets.com in my sleep disorder. Deep sleep without any interruption is boon of God.

  14. I have the UP and have been monitoring my sleep for over a month. I seem to average around the 40-50% deep sleep but it is comprised of between 6 and 9 short cycles of deep sleep per night. I recently had a sleep study done because of my snoring and suspected apnea. It found I was snoring in EVERY position and I suffer SEVERE sleep apnea. The follow-up sleep test using CPAP showed my snoring stopped and more importantly there were no apnea episodes recorded. I wore my UP during this CPAP test and it showed only 3 long cycles of deep sleep (compared to the 6-9 cycles previously mentioned) which seemed to correlate as to how refreshed I felt when I was awoken at 5am ie after only 6 hours of sleep. I agree that the UP should not be used instead of proper medical tests but it has shown me that it is a great guide as to how much beneficial sleep one is getting. I will be using CPAP from next week so will keep using my UP and compare the readings to see how well they correlate over time. I’ll keep you updated!

  15. Thanks for posting this Steve. It’s encouraging to hear that the UP can give us valuable hints on our sleep patterns.

    You don’t mention how the deep-sleep data on your UP compared to your sleep study: did the study not measure the deep-sleep phases?

    1. I now have the readings from my cpap-titration study but unfortunately I don’t have the results from my UP as it was over 4 weeks ago. I just remember that the deep sleep periods were fewer but much longer dispersed with shorter periods of light sleep. The official 4 stages of sleep readings (in minutes) for 5.25 hrs of sleep were N1 20, N2 116, N3 161, REM 17. If we assume the N3 and REM readings would be recorded as “deep” sleep by UP, we get 178 mins or 56%. Adding in the N2 reading would push this up to 93% “deep” sleep. So, without the exact UP readings to refer to, we can only assume the UP readings fall somewhere between 56% and 93%.

      1. Thanks Steve. If you ever get another sleep study done, I’d be very curious to know how the UP-measurement compares to the ‘real’ sleep phases.
        And happy to know that the CPAP seems to be helping you!

        1. I managed to find the UP data string for Tuesday 14 October from the Accounts section of Jawbone.com. 20141014,61.53972602739726,1890.8677419452051,
          ,0,95.0,0,1.7018,2539.0,244.784628398728,
          3428.0,25080.0,441.0,7800.0,4662.0,2135.
          652370343933,0.0,0.0,,,,,,,,,,,,,2999.0,2558.0,
          31500.0,1.0,1102.0,0.0,1.0,15361.0,
          28042.0,12681.0,84.0,0.0,101.0

          Are you able to convert it to something more readable?
          If not, my next CPAP sleep study is scheduled for Monday 5 January 2015.

  16. I just got the UP 24 and I am obsessed with learning about the sleep. I had no Idea I woke up as much as it said I did, but I guess this is one of the reasons I am always tired. My night sleep is more than my deep sleep and more concerning is says I am awake for 1/3 of the time! Frustrating too is putting it in sleep mode does’ t always work -even when I do it with the app instead of button and waiting for vibration.

  17. Carsten,
    Hopefully all the data will fit on the page this time 😉

    20141014,61.53972602739726,1890.8677419452051,
    ,0,95.0,0,1.7018,2539.0
    ,244.784628398728,3428.0,25080.0,441.0,7800.0,4662.0,
    2135.652370343933,0.0,0.0,,,,,,,,,,,,,2999.0,2558.0,
    31500.0,1.0,1102.0,0.0,1.0,15361.0,28042.0,
    12681.0,84.0,0.0,101.0

    Thank, Steve

  18. Thank you so very much for this post!!! I just got my first Jawbone Up device this past weekend and I, too, was alarmed to see my deep sleep percentages. I was looking online for more information, saw scientific articles like you mentioned and still felt confused… Then I found your post and you answered my question exactly. Thank you for taking the time to do this!!

  19. Thanks for posting. I just started using a MisFit Shine and it tells me my total amount of sleep and how much of that is deep sleep but that’s it. I’m thinking the Jawbone software seems more detailed….Either way though, I was also wondering what that deep sleep goal should be.

  20. I use the Fitbit Flex to monitor my sleep. I have data from the past year. Last night I got 2 hrs 36 minutes of “deep sleep”, and my total sleep was over 8 hours. My data shows sleep that is completely interrupted- the largest band of deep sleep was 31 minutes, most are under 9 minutes. I am waiting for the sleep lab to call me to schedule. I am exhausted!

    Every once in a while (usually if I don’t fall asleep until after 1:30 am, I will get a band > 50 minutes and it is like a slice of heaven!

    I am anxious to compare the Fitbit data with the sleep study data to see the correlation.

    1. Hi, I too have inerrupted bands of deep sleep. Mine have make up as little as 20% of my total sleep. I would love to know what your sleep study results are!

  21. Jennifer Browner

    Thank you so much for this – i just got mu Up24 a few days ago and this answered all my questions. I’ve been disappointed by my deep sleep numbers because I used the Sleepio programme about a year ago and thought I was generally sleeping better, but my deep sleep numbers are low. Explains why I never feel refreshed. Do you know how the Up knows when you’ve woken up? It says I’m not waking up, but I know I wake up several times because I always look at the clock.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I also found that the Jawbone Up is not very accurate when it comes to the waking-up data.
      But it’s not much of a surprise I think.
      If the Jawbone measures movements, how is it going to be totally accurate on whether you make those movements awake or asleep?

    2. I have this same problem. Last night, I woke up, and went to the bathroom, and it says I didn’t wake up but had 16 steps already logged. Hmmmmm

  22. I have also just gotten a jawbone 3 and was particularly interested in it to track my sleep pattern. According to the Jawbone it appears I’m in deep sleep for 2/3 of the night. I feel like I’m awake alot of the night. I’ve talked to a doctor about this previously and he refered to it as the “twilight zone” – during this period i feel as though I am not moving at all kind, but “unconscious” almost like a trance but not really sleeping. I’m 51 years old female, eat right, and exercise. Wondering if anyone has any comment on this.

  23. my average is 1 hr and 37 mins of deep sleep .light sleep is just over 2 hrs . Can’t be healthy can it?

  24. I started wearing a sleep mask (like they give you on the airlines) 3 nights ago. Pretty dramatic increase in deep sleep as a result. I thought my room was dark but I guess all the LED light from phone, charger etc was having an impact.

    1. That’s interesting Bob.
      I am going to try that too.
      Thanks for sharing.

  25. I am only in deep sleep for about an hour. On the weekends it is about 5. That tells me that during the week I worry to much!

  26. Very helpful. I had much the same question following reviewing the results from a different sleep tracking wristband and app, and found useful your summary of the different types of sleep and how the app likely categorises them. My wristband-measured ‘deep sleep’ was just under 50%, so I am happy.
    Thanks.

  27. How does taking Lunesta factor into this. I find I get two to three hours more sleep – deep and light. I’d like to know if
    Lunesta affects the quality of sleep.

    1. Sorry Tina, but I don’t know that.

  28. I frequently wake up in the middle of the night but am unable to go back to sleep for a half hour or so. Does UP differentiate between deep sleep and just lying in bed awake but not moving?

    1. Hi Pat,
      as the UP only measures movements, it couldn’t know the difference between deep sleep and lying awake without moving.
      But then I guess it’s hard not to move at all while you are awake?

      1. Depends on how soft your mattress is :-)

      2. I guess I’ll just l have to flop around while I’m awake. :)

      3. The UP3 measures a lot more than just movement with the heart rate monitor and galvanic skin response. Using the combination of these and movement sensors it can tell when you are actually awake.

  29. Thank you very much for posting this Carsten. This is the info I have been looking for since I received my JB24 for Xmas. It has been helpful in tracking my sleep. I look forward to more comments on subject.

    1. Thanks Tina, I am happy that this post keeps helping to answer a question that many of us ask.

  30. I guess I’ll just have to flop around while I’m awake then.

  31. This blog post was exactly the information I was looking for! As a follow up however, I would like tips on how to stay in a deep sleep longer! Sounds like I’m not the only one with a small percentage of deep sleep :-)

  32. Hello from italy.
    I have the same problem here. I’m 36. I generally sleep 8 hours a night but my deep sleep is always around 20%. The rest is light sleep. I do all the things theys uggest. Sleep in dark, eat hours before going to bed. Only sleep in bed, no watch tv or other. I go to bed regularly at the same time… but my partter is always the same. Lots of light sleep. Few deep sleep. I tried trackying with several trackers, the results is always the same.

    1. HI from Singapore.

      I have the same problem. less than 20% most of the time. I think exercise do improve my deep sleep sometime. And medicine we are taking daily is also playing a part.

      Still amid in finding out any solution can work for me for a long term.

      Lets share.

  33. Thanks so much for this info. Last night was my first night with my Jawbone UP and even though it said I woke up 5 times. It shows my deep sleep as just under 50%. I was concerned that the ratio was too low.

  34. Interesting reading. I use sleep cycle to record my sleep. I barely get into deep sleep each night! I am on the route to getting a cpap to stop my snoring although I am borderline for sleep apnea. On the rare occasion I go into deep sleep I don’t snore. Is the snoring stopping me from going into deep sleep?

  35. Thanks for all the posts and interesting information. I have had a Jawbone since May 2014 and I have been trying to increase my sound sleep numbers each month.

    I just took a monthly trend and divided Sound Sleep by Total Sleep. (Data is available in Trends section on the Jawbone app)
    My best month was December at 44%.

    I saw a jump of 8% per month in October after I started wearing these orange glasses ($10 on Amazon) when the sun goes down.
    Something about preventing the blue light and keeping your circadian rhythms in order.

    I am going to try magnesium this month to see if that might help.

    -Peter

    1. How did the magnesium help?

      1. It seems to help a little bit. The key seems to be a colder room. Like around 68 degrees.

      2. The magnesium helps some. The key seems to be the colder room. 68 Degrees seems best.

  36. The Jawbone is my latest obsession! My deep sleep so far is worse than yours – about 20 %. Maybe that’s why I’m always tired!

  37. They should make a feature that wakes you up once you have enough deep sleep. This will help you reach your objective.

  38. Technically you didn’t really answer the question “how much deep sleep do we need?”. This only answers, what deep sleep percentage we need.

  39. In 2008 the sleep
    profession in the US eliminated the use of stage 4. Stages 3 and 4 are now considered stage 3.
    Slow wave sleep comes mostly in the first half of the night, REM in the second half. Waking may
    occur after REM. If the waking period is long enough, the person may remember it the next
    morning. Short awakenings may disappear with amnesia.
    In the REM period, breathing becomes more rapid, irregular and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly and
    limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Brain waves during this stage increase to levels
    experienced when a person is awake. Also, heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, males
    develop erections and the body loses some of the ability to regulate its temperature. This is the
    time when most dreams occur, and, if awoken during REM sleep, a person can remember the
    dreams. Most people experience three to five intervals of REM sleep each night.

    1. Excellent post! I’ve run through each model of the Jawbone band over the past 3+ years. The latest model correlates well to a recent medical sleep study. Overall, I find that my efforts to effect the amount of deep sleep & REM sleep are almost always fruitless. Exceptions include:
      – quick massive deep sleep occurs after a long hard day of farm work.
      – a bottle of wine causes a steep decline in deep sleep ….. And not only because I get up 2 or more times to pee.
      – for me …. Sleeping more than 8 hours per night for 2-3 nights in a row causes lengthy sleepless periods after my early evening Deep sleep trio

  40. Kelly Williams

    Great info! I wondered how the devices knew! I am WAY off on my %’s! Just started using a CPAP due to mild-moderate apnea. Not really seeing a difference! Hmmmm

  41. I do believe the UP3 does a much better job of sleep tracking. I just received mine 3 days ago and I have compared it to using the Sleep Cycle app that I was using prior to that. I average 50min – 90 minutes each night and 1-3 hours of deep sleep.

  42. I just started using the UP3 and it says it measures light, deep and REM sleep. I have not looked at Jawbone’s website to see if they explain how they measure REM.

  43. I bought one MI Fit for myself and one for my daughter. And we have been monitoring our sleep. This article is great since (just like many other commenters) I was looking for the information on what is a right percentage of deep sleep. This post is so informative. Our experience is that most nights I get 50% (+/- 1% variance) and my daughter gets 30% (+/- 4%). I have been looking for ways to increase my daughter’s deep sleep hours. I also keep track of what I did wrong/right my deep sleep on occasional nights when I get way less than 50% or way more. So far one thing stands out. Eating foods that can one make one thirsty (or an inadequate level of hydration) cuts down on deep sleep. Based on limited experimentation, Vitamin B complex (Costco version 1 pill) helps improve the level of deep sleep by about 5% for my daughter. I take a B complex pill every day and I am yet to skip and test to see if my level of deep sleep goes below 50% if I do not take the pill.

    1. Hi Narasil, I never thought about hydration as a factor. But now you say it, I do sometimes wake up at night being thirsty. So I guess (de)hydration impacts my deep sleep ratio as well. Thanks for the hint.

      1. I have the UP4 (relatively new – have had for two weeks). The “coach” says to drink at least (8) 8oz. glasses of water per day for proper hydration. It says that the hydration helps with your resting heart rate (helps lower it). I have tried – been very faithful about it for the last few days. Last night I slept 7hrs/14m and my resting heart rate was 59. Best it’s been since starting with the Jawbone. Thank you for your explanations.

  44. This is the exact explanation I am looking for. Just got my UP2 last Friday and have been tracking sleep. I get about 10-15% deep sleep, so obviously not enough, which is probably why I’m exhausted all the time . . . off to figure out how to get better deep sleep!

  45. Use of alcohol has a direct impact on deep sleep. Even tiniest bit of alcohol will reduce the amount of deep sleep and you can try this on your own. Log deep sleep vs alcohol and you’ll know what I mean.

  46. I am only getting one hour or less of deep sleep at night. Sometimes its only 14 minutes. I take Ambien along Amitriptyline for my sleep. It started when I was 18 years old I am now 27 and have been on a sleep aid for 9 years now. Its awful and only getting worse. I am curious if anyone else suffers from this bad of sleep deprivation or use too but has found something that actually helps.

    1. Hi Christina, I can’t help you with that. But have you been to a sleep lab or seen an expert on this?

    2. Hey Christina, have you ever tried using Melatonin?

      Check out the research on http://www.gwern.net/Melatonin and start with very low doses, then work your way up.

      Good luck!

    3. Christina have you had your Vitamin D3 levels check and Magnesium ( which is harder to measure) levels checked also?

  47. It should be noted that Jawbone UP 3 & 4 distinguish deep sleep and REM using bioimpedance sensors.

    1. What are they then?

  48. Interesting article, I also noticed that on days I drink alcohol, my deep sleep time goes down to as little as 20% of my overall sleep time. Anyone else noticed that?

  49. I’m a 53 year old an have been using the UP 3 to monitor my deep sleep for a few months now. I’m also a bit obsessed with deep sleep with all I have read lately about how much physical regeneration occurs in this phase. My UP says that I average about 7 percent in deep sleep. I want way more than that. I understand that the average time in deep sleep decreases with age, but I’m concerned with numbers that low. You suggest that the UP tends to conflate REM and deep sleep and lump it into deep sleep. My question is this: could the reverse be true? Could the UP misclassify some of my Deep sleep time as REM sleep?

    1. Hello Chris, I haven’t measured with the UP3.
      I know it distinguishes between REM and deep sleep.
      The theory is that we move a little more in deep sleep than during REM; and that the heart rate during deep sleep is more regular compared to REM. The UP3 would combine the two indicators (heart rate and our movements) to differentiate the two sleep phases.
      So far the principle but I don’t know how reliable that is.

      1. Did you take your theory from garbage? We move more during deep sleep than during dream sleep? Please.

  50. Hi Everyone,

    Very interesting site! I’ve been using my UP3 for a little over a month now but I’m concerned with how little deep sleep I’m apparently having. For example, for the last week I have managed to average 8.5 hours of sleep a night, going to bed at the same time every night. But, I only seem to be averaging about 14 minutes of deep sleep a night, 1.5 hours of REM and the rest light sleep. I know these Jawbones aren’t scientifically accurate but surely this is at least indicating my level of deep sleep is low. I’m a very active person, going to the gym at least 4 times a week. Can anyone advise as to how to go about increasing my deep sleep levels?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Andy,
      14 minutes of deep sleep is unbelievably little.

      Have you measured with a different device or app (like SleepCycle) to compare the results?
      Carsten

    2. Hi Andy
      I also average 20 to 30 minutes deep sleep a night. I am tired for sure

    3. 3+ year user of Jawbone bands (earliest model up to current). I don’t think it possible to “will” oneself to more deep sleep. After more than 1,000 nights with UP bands, I can relate one sure fire way to get ample deep sleep . . . Perform hard manual labor (fence building, ditch digging, mountain climbing, roofing) for 6+ hours during the day. Physical exhaustion does the trick. I’m over 60 and the work is therapeutic.

  51. Hi both,

    I haven’t tried another band but I’m going to try that app tonight for sure and see how it compares – will post it up. I will also lend my band to my girlfriend and see how this compares. Marie, I’m glad I’m not the only one! I feel tired most mornings! I only seem to get this vital deep sleep for one short burst in the first quarter of my night’s sleep. How about you?

  52. I don’t know how I was sleeping before ( as far as breaking it down into cycles) but I definitely feel like I’ve been sleeping better since I got the Sleep cycle app. And you would be surprised to find that on avg I get 49% Deep sleep+ REM every night. I enjoy the way it wakes me. It always amazes me how I find myself asleep and hear a faint sound that peacefully pulls me out of my sleep. So much nicer than my annoying regular alarm. I suppose because it uses a 30 minute window to wake me during my lightest sleep I feel less groggy. Love this app.

  53. I have been wearing UP2 about 2 weeks. I am averaging 2.5-3 hours of total deep sleep per night but should I be concerned when it is broken up into 8-10 short segments lasting 10 minutes up to 30 minutes each or should I expect longer segments.

  54. I’m on my 3rd jawbone and I love it b/c it tracks everything so well. I’ve found that if I’m healthy, at a regular stress level, and keep a regular bedtime/routine then I get about 50/50 light sleep to sound sleep. If any of those are off then I get more light sleep than sound sleep. Or if anything is different, then I get way more light sleep. As to the stress level, I’m not saying that I’m not stressed just not more than usual and my usual is pretty high. I found this article very helpful b/c lately my sound sleep has been significantly lower than my light sleep (closer to 30% or less) and I have been concerned. After reading this article and many of the comments, as well as another one about suggestions on getting more sound sleep, I’m hopeful that I can fix the problems.

  55. How do I improve my deep sleep?

    1. Hey Kem! If you leave your emailaddress we’ll send you quite some tips and tricks to improve it!

  56. I have been using my UP2 for 3 weeks and I am amazed how much the sleep awareness gets in your head. I find the awareness of the inadequate sleep very insightful and I can now correlate my daily energy and concentration levels to sleep quality.
    With this new knowledge being made simple and affordable to the public it’s going to create a large uptic in solution based business for those seeking to improve sleep quality.
    I would be interested in speaking to others who agree and wish to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity

  57. In 9 hours of sleep…
    1 hour deep sleep
    1 hour REM
    7 hours light sleep

    Thoughts? Ideas?

    When I sleep 5-6 hours, the ratio is about the same.

  58. I just started using the Jawbone Up2. I am awaiting an actual EEG to be scheduled, but they are scheduling so far out, I decided I would track my sleep until then. Obviously an Up2 is not going to be any where near as accurate and telling as an EEG, but I wanted to get an idea anyway. I knew I was not sleeping well, but when seeing it on a graph in the morning it was shocking to see just how bad it really is. Out of an 8-9 hours of “sleep” only 1 hour and 45 min of that is “deep sleep”. The rest is either light sleep or me being awake about 5 times a night for a total of nearly 2 hours. Its really no wonder I am tired all of the time. I suffered a traumatic brain injury about 2 years ago and ever since then, my sleep has been awful (among other lovely leftover side effects). I don’t know what to do to get a good night’s sleep, but boy would I love to have one….

  59. I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if this was remarked on elsewhere (& yes the post is from a while back now) but technical point. Jawbone probably can tell when you’re in REM sleep, because it tracks not on,y movement but heart rate. When you’re not moving but you suddenly get an increase in heart rate variability = REM sleep… Hope that helps.

  60. According to my jawbone data, My deep sleep is sporadic in small bits of time interspersed with light sleep in between. I’m wondering if this is normal and healthy or not???

  61. I just completed a sleep study test at a clinic which I received because I don’t sleep well and I am exhausted. I started the actual test at 9:30pm and completed it at 5:30 am. I did not sleep well but it definitely was no different than my typical sleep at home. The report says I slept for 176 minutes and had 0% REM. I had some apnea, and woke up an average of 9 times an hour. Because my apnea was considered not to be major, no reccomendations were made. Just wondering what my next step should be to get more sleep.

  62. Excellent article. For last few weeks I am using Fit Bit and deep sleep is hardly 2 hrs out of 7 hours I sleep. Sometimes it drops to even 1 hr and 10 min.
    I was wondering what should be the correct norm for me and I have almost got the answer. Now it is up to me how I can improve the percentage to 45%.
    Thanks for a nice article.

  63. This was an interesting read, I usually get a good 7 hours sleep per night and wake up feeling tired most of the time. I purchased a health wrist band with built in sleep tracker to monitor my sleep, I’ve been using it a week and my deep sleep has varied between 16mins-28 mins a night. No wonder I’m still tired when I wake. There’s a history of sleep disorders that fun on my mum’s side of the family.. could I suffer too?!

    1. Ive been tracking with the jawbone for a couple years and my deep sleep is consistently 4-5 hrs. I thought this was a low number until I read the article and comments.

  64. Great article. Great responses too, I’m sorry I couldn’t read them all, it’s a very active post.

    I highly suggest the Sleep as Android app. I’ve been using it for years as my alarm because it tracks your sleep patterns and attempts to wake you up as you are finishing a sleep cycle. There are many many settings, and some cool capthchas to prove that you are awake. Dream diaries, bedtime notifications based on your sleep deficit, snoring and sleep talking recordings, experimental features like lucid dreaming, chock full of features. I wear my Pebble to bed, which tracks my movements, rather than the movements of anyone in the bed…

    My Pebble vibrates for the first minute of my alarm, then it plays ocean waves slowly rising to full volume over 24 minutes before playing my backup alarm.

    I noticed today that it accurately distinguishes REM sleep. Well, it seems to, anyway. Looking at last night’s data, I can see 3 sleep cycles starting with light sleep, dipping into deep sleep, then REM sleep, then back to light sleep.

    My next desire? Bluetooth EEG. If anyone knows a good affordable one…

  65. Hello all, some good reading here. I decided to track my sleep as I didn’t think I slept very well most of the time. I have a UP3 and it appears that I usually get between 2-3 hrs of deep sleep in total but that time is broken up in segments of about 5mins to as long as 30mins. Then usually I get about 1-2 hours of REM a night usually over the last 4 hours of sleep. The segments range from about 5mins to about 20mins so usually 4 different segments of REM a night.

    When I get 3 hours of deep sleep, I feel great and not tired all day.

    I guess I sleep well for the most part, it seems like I rotate between light and deep sleep about 8-10 times a night. Hope this is somewhat normal

  66. very interesting i plan to try this

  67. Tobias Haugen

    I came across your blogpost while searching for the amount of deep sleep recommended for adults. May I ask where you found the information that about 20% of deep sleep and 25% of REM sleep is what we should aim for? And also, do you have any update on your progress now that Jawbone tracks REM sleep (how they do that, I don’t know) as well? I’ve been tracking my sleep for about 1,5 months now and rarely get 20% or more of deep sleep, often banking about 10-15%. It’s quite nice to get some stats on this, as it makes me eager to improve my sleep.

  68. My UP does show my REM sleep.

  69. I just got an EEG sleep band with accompanying app and used it for the first time last night.

    I feel I am usually a very light sleeper and on my first night my EEG results are:

    Total sleep – 6.5 hours
    ‘Quality Sleep’ – 4.8 hours
    Deep Sleep – 1.2 hours

    I was surprised how little deep sleep I got and that’s how I found this article.

    I slept on my left side for 2.3 hours, my right side for 2.2 hours, and facing up for 2 hours. My best sleep was on my left side.

    The band/app track REM but the current version of the app doesn’t indicate exactly how much time I spent in REM sleep, it’s just indicated on the graph when it occurred.

    I’m have some melatonin but want to continue using the band/app without it for at least a week so I can scientifically evaluate how the melatonin affects my sleep.

    If anybody is interested in the tech I used, it’s this – http://sleepshepherd.com/

    It has other features that help you fall asleep, and can wake you up gradually and naturally without a noisy alarm.

  70. Thank you for giving us a general idea of how to interpret data collected on fitband devices. Sleep is a complex and dynamic process, but having some general idea of how much we are moving, and at what times and intervals, can give us a bit more insight on how to adjust our behaviors or to signal us if there is a possible issue to explore further. I use the Garmin vivofit 3 and also take subjective data on how my energy level is to see any patterns. I have a circadian sleep issue…while not clinically diagnosable, it does impact my life. The fitbess band data helps motivate me to have better sleep hygeine and better habits. Thank you for your post!

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