Isn’t it refreshing to wake up one morning after having the sweetest sleep ever? There was no snoring, no phone calls, or unwanted disturbances, just you in your warm and cozy bed, sleeping soundly. Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Most of us struggle to get the sleep that even remotely resembles this pattern. We are too busy binge-watching our favorite Netflix show, stressing about the presentation on Monday, or covering our ears with pillows because our partner can’t stop snoring. And because of all this, we end up missing out on some much-needed sleep. So then, how do we ensure good sleep? Is seven to nine hours of sleep the only requirement for a good sleep?
Whenever one thinks of healthy sleep, they correlate it with a certain amount of time. For example, the recommended sleeping time for adults per day is seven to nine hours. However, there are more factors than just time when it comes to ensuring a healthy sleep cycle.
Do you have a problem with snoring, or have a colleague who just won’t stop calling you in the middle of the night? Do you feel exhausted in the morning because of this even though you slept for nine hours? If yes, then focus on the quality of sleep more than the quantity.
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, the quality of your sleep matters more than whether or not you slept for eight hours. So, what is sleep quality? Let’s find out.
What is Sleep Quality?
Doctors and experts define restorative and restful sleep as quality sleep. However, to understand it better, we can look at the stages you go through when you sleep well:
- Stage I: This is essentially the dozing off stage and occurs within five minutes of you hitting the sack. Although your body hasn’t fully rolled into sleeping yet, your brain activities and body start slowing down.
- Stage II: This is the time when your body starts to relax more and gets subdued. Your body undergoes the following changes – a drop in heart rate, slowed eye movements, and relaxed muscles. This typically lasts for about 25 minutes during the first sleep cycle and can become longer during the night.
- Stage III: This stage is called deep sleep, and it is hard to wake someone up when they are in this stage of the cycle. In this stage, your body completely relaxes and is actually in the restorative and growth phase. Experts deem this stage as critical to have a good quality sleep because it promotes cell recovery, and restoration of the entire body.
Our body’s circadian rhythm controls our internal clock and induces wakefulness and sleepiness at certain periods. Falling asleep in line with your natural clock indicates a good sleep quality. Another indicator of sleep quality is sleep timing, which is when you fall asleep in 24 hours.
Satisfaction with how well-rested you feel both upon sleeping and waking also indicates the quality of your sleep.
If you are missing out on any of these factors while tucking yourself in, then the chances are you are not making smart choices when it comes to ensuring good sleep quality.
How to Optimize Sleep Quality?
So by now, you might have figured out that while quantity of sleep is important, it is only a part of the equation. What matters more is the quality of sleep you get, which is not the best for a lot of sleepers out there. A lot of things can get in the way of you having a restful and uninterrupted sleep. Sometimes they can be medical conditions, or other times, it can be just a snoring partner.
Medical conditions include depression, anxiety, insomnia, sleep apnea, and stress-related disorders. However, various lifestyle-related activities play an essential role in dictating the quality of our sleep. A poor diet, little exercise, excess alcohol consumption, smoking, excessive screen time, and snoring are all lifestyle factors that contribute to poor quality of sleep.
However, you can easily tackle these, and you will find yourself sleeping like a baby in no time! How? Let’s find out:
- Address Medical Problems: If you are suffering from any medical problems that interfere with your sleep cycle, it is high time you reach out to your doctor.
- Add Exercise to Your Routine: Tire yourself by going for a short walk or even a run with your partner or dog. Studies claim exercise can drastically change and improve the quality of sleep. And poor sleep may contribute to low physical activity – meaning, you could get caught in a vicious cycle if you don’t do something about it.
- Go Screen-Free Before Bed: Do you catch yourself tucking into your bed relatively early but sleeping late … because you got busy scrolling reels? Well, it is time to say goodbye to that habit. Opt for habits that do not involve screens before bed, like reading a book or journaling. Excess screen-time has been associated with poor sleeping schedules, as per researchers.
- Tackle Snoring: If you live with a snoring partner, I feel for you. It is likely you wake up in the middle of a very good dream each night because of it and then can’t sleep again. An easy solution to prevent this is trying out anti-snoring activities before bed. So you could ensure your partner does not drink before bed and ensure they take a warm bath. If push comes to shove, try out snoring solutions like Smart Nora, a device that repositions your pillow when it senses snores – preventing snoring.
Now that you know all these factors and know what to do to optimize your sleeping time, it is time to make smart choices. A good night’s sleep is only adopting healthy habits away.
Our body is dependent on seven to nine hours of good quality sleep and functions differently with different sleeping patterns. It is time to get the sleep and rest you deserve.