Sleep affects our lives in ways that not many people pay attention to. Though you know when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, when you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day, you equally know when you haven’t had enough, and you dread the thought of a long workday.
Often, our lack of sleep isn’t due to something being internally wrong with us such as with certain sleep disorders. Instead, for most of us, when we feel we haven’t gotten enough sleep, this can simply be caused by a lack of quality sleep.
Studies have shown that five hours of quality sleep is much healthier than 10 hours of interrupted sleep. So, what’s the difference between quality versus quantity?
Here, in this article, we’ll unpack the differences and discuss a few concepts regarding interrupted sleep.
What is Quality Sleep?
The overall quality of sleep that you get each night has a determining hand in your physical health and mental well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the key indicators of quality sleep are as follows:
- Waking up and immediately falling back to sleep
- Falling asleep in less than a half-hour
- Only being awake for 20 minutes or less if you wake during the night
- Being asleep a minimum of 85 percent of the time while in bed
- Not remembering waking up at all during the night
Sleep quality can be determined by a variety of indicators, but the largest indicator of all is the ability to fall asleep quickly, and not wake in the middle of the night. This level of quality sleep is thought to recharge the mind and body the most, and leaves you feeling the most refreshed and invigorated when you wake.
How to Improve Sleep Quality
With our busy lives in this modern technologically-driven era, it’s a wonder how anyone gets any rest at all. The fact is, we have so many distractions around us at all times that it largely becomes an issue of overstimulation in many cases of poor sleep habits.
Despite that buzzing, droning, and beeping that we’re all accustomed to, there are even other factors to consider when you’re not getting quality sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adhering to the following list can help you achieve quality sleep:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Having an erratic or random sleep schedule can throw your body out of rhythm. Ensure that you’re going to bed around the same time each night, and waking around the same time each morning.
- Avoid Caffeine
Drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, soft drinks, and tea can keep you up at night, and since caffeine is a diuretic, this can cause you to go to the bathroom frequently as well.
- Avoid using devices at least an hour before bedtime
Using digital devices such as cell phones and tablets right before bed can cause too much brain stimulation, and this can keep you awake for several hours after you go to bed.
Several other habits such as drinking alcohol before bed or having the thermostat set too high can also cause disruptions in sleep patterns. Adjust your alcohol consumption accordingly, and set your thermostat to a cool, comfortable level.
What About Sleep Devices?
Sleep-inducing devices have had many mixed reviews over the years. Where some claim that sound machines lull them to sleep instantly, others claim they keep them awake. However, in some severe circumstances, sleep devices have been recommended, such as for sufferers of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea sufferers have been known to use CPAP machines, and CPAP machines have been linked to the development of cancer. In fact, many are considering filing lawsuits against manufacturers of CPAP machines for compensation.
Other sleep aids, aside from medical devices and natural sound machines, such as sleeping pills, or even melatonin supplements, should always be taken with caution, as you can develop a dependency on these machines and medications. As always, consult your physician prior to engaging in any sleep remedy regimen.