Joshua Tal, PhD
Is 1 Hour of Deep Sleep Enough?
It seems this question can be broken into two parts.
First question: if a person were to get only one hour of deep sleep per night, would there be negative health consequences? As other people suggested below, there would indeed be health risks to such a small amount of deep sleep.
The second question, and the better one I think, is why am I only getting one hour of deep sleep? Or why do I think I am only getting an hour of deep sleep? Most people cannot tell how much deep sleep they are getting without using a device. First sub-question, is the device telling you that you are only getting one hour of deep sleep accurate?
Smart devices are good at telling you when you are sleeping vs not sleeping, but most are horrible at accurately telling you when you are in deep vs shallow sleep. There is such a wide range of sleep devices to choose from that can give you insight on sleep duration, quality, and phases – as well as environmental factors or lifestyle factors. While they help to collect a lot of information, they don’t generally measure sleep quality directly. These devices often make a “guesstimate” on sleep quality, resulting in inaccurate information. The best result for finding out how much sleep you are getting is to have a sleep study done, which helps to analyze the different stages during your sleep. If your device is consistently telling you that you are getting low quality sleep, think about why? Too much light? Bed partner? Alcohol and substances? If indeed do a full sleep study and you measure only 1 hour of deep sleep, you should look into fixing the cause. In many cases, the cause can be sleep apnea and it is highly treatable. Sleep apnea is a condition where a person has abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. People who experience sleep apnea have multiple extended pauses in breathing while asleep. Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep issues in the US, although many people have it but do not know it. Some symptoms for sleep apnea are disrupted breathing, excessive daytime sleep, morning headaches or dry mouth, irritability, limited attention span, snoring, and nocturia. Symptoms are quadrupled under the effects of alcohol.
The good news is that sleep apnea is highly treatable. There are a few different treatments for sleep apnea based on the severity. If it is mild, it could be simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking or going to a sleep apnea dentist for a dental device. Another treatment is CPAP - Continuous positive airway pressure. This is a machine that is used to help pressurized air be delivered via a tube during sleep. Although there are others that find themselves with CPAP anxiety caused by difficulty with tolerating the forced air, feeling claustrophobic, etc, there are many people who love their CPAP machine. The best way to find out the correct treatment for your sleep apnea is to see a doctor and go over the different options, including desensitization, cleaning devices, heating devices, and other accessories.
In general, most cases that are not caused by an underlying medical disorder like sleep apnea are caused by stress. Stress and sleep go hand and hand. Stress can cause arousal/fight and flight leading to disrupted sleep while disrupted sleep causes increased vulnerability to sleep. There are some things you can try in order to cope with stress around bedtime, resulting in better sleep. Creating a nighttime routine, improve daily habits, learn yoga or other relaxation techniques, and get support! Being able to pinpoint stress factors in your life and come up with a way to better manage it can help you to regain that control and get you back to sleeping better.
It is also important to note that your sleep is self correcting, if you get little deep sleep one night, you will get more deep sleep the next night. Sleep is passive, it happens to you and it makes sure you get a high average of deep sleep and rem sleep automatically. If it develops into a bigger, chronic sleep anxiety or insomnia, treatment using Cognitive Behavioral Therapist for insomnia is available and effective. Find a sleep specialist or an insomnia therapist in New York, insomnia specialist in Houston, sleep psychologist in Las Vegas, CBT for insomnia specialist in Maryland, natural sleep remedies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sleep better in Phoenix, Arizona, sleep naturally in Denver, Colorado, insomnia cure in Wilmington, Delaware, sleep better for life in Washington DC, Atlanta, Georgia, sleep cure in Chicago, Illinois, Baltimore, Maryland, sleep better in Cincinnati, Ohio, sleep well in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia, CBT-I provider in Nashville, Tennessee.
This answer is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Quora users who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Quora's Terms of Service (http://www.quora.com/about/tos).