Sleep Quality vs Sleep Quantity: What's More Crucial for a Good Nights Sleep
Do you ever wake up feeling like you haven't slept a wink, despite spending a solid eight hours in bed? We've all been there, and it's frustrating, to say the least. But did you know that the quality of your sleep is just as important as the amount of time you spend sleeping? In fact, the two are so intertwined that you can't have one without the other.
In this blog, we're diving deep into the world of sleep quality vs. sleep quantity, exploring what they are, why they matter, and how you can optimize both for the best possible sleep. Get ready to learn how to unlock the secret to a truly restful night's sleep.
What Is Sleep Quantity?
Sleep quantity refers to the hours of sleep that you get on a regular basis. It's important to know how much sleep you need in order to function well at work, at home, and in your relationships.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep quantity varies depending on age group:
Infant (4-12 months): 12-16 hours (including naps)
Toddler (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (including naps)
Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours (including naps)
School-age (6-12 years): 9-12 hours
Teen (13-18 years): 8-10 hours
Adult (18 years and older): 7 hours or more
Although these sleep guidelines are helpful, they are generalized and not suitable for everyone. Individuals may require more or less sleep than the recommended amount based on their specific needs.
What Is Sleep Quality?
Sleep quality is a subjective measure of the quality of sleep. It is usually assessed by asking people to rate their sleep according to a list of statements.
Sleep is an experience with many dimensions. Sleep quality refers to the subjective evaluation of these dimensions, including duration, frequency, and efficiency.
That said, there are several aspects that can be measured objectively:
Sleep efficiency – how much time you spend sleeping compared with how much time is spent in bed
Sleep onset latency – how long it takes you to fall asleep once you are in bed
Sleep satisfaction – How satisfied someone is with their overall sleep experience
Sleep continuity – how often do you wake up during the night
Sleep timing – whether your sleep occurs at a normal hour for your age group (e.g., teenagers generally need more sleep than adults)
In the pursuit of quality sleep, it is essential to understand what causes poor sleep and how to improve your quality of sleep, so you can feel better and more rested during the day.
Obstacles to Achieving Restorative Sleep
There are many different factors that can influence the quantity and quality of sleep you get. Some of these factors include:
Underlying medical issue: If you have underlying medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, or heart disease, this can be a major obstacle to getting quality sleep.
Drugs consumption: Drugs such as alcohol can disrupt your sleeping patterns and make you feel tired during the day because alcohol is a depressant that slows down brain activity and decreases REM (rapid eye movement) phases of sleep – which are important for memory consolidation, learning, and concentration during the day time hours.
Stress: A stressful lifestyle can also cause sleep problems because your body releases cortisol, which is a hormone that helps you cope with stress. If you have too much cortisol in your system, it can interfere with the production of melatonin – which is a hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
Technology: The blue light from phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions all affect how well we sleep by disrupting our circadian rhythms which regulate when we feel sleepy or awake during the 24-hour day cycle.
Environmental Factors: Factors such as uncomfortable bedding, temperature, light, and noise can all interfere with restorative sleep.
By identifying and addressing these obstacles, you can take steps toward achieving restorative sleep and improving your overall health and well-being.
5 Habits to Enhance Your Sleep Quantity and Quality
By paying attention to sleep hygiene, you can employ several strategies to improve the quality of your rest if you're having trouble getting a good night's sleep.
1. Regulate Your Body's Internal Clock
Your body's circadian rhythm regulates your sleep-wake cycle, dictating when you feel sleepy and when you feel alert. To get the most restful sleep possible, it's essential to stick to your natural circadian rhythm. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This consistency will help regulate your sleep pattern and enhance the quality of your sleep.
2. Beat Social Jet Lag
Social jet lag is the misalignment of your sleep schedule on the weekends compared to weekdays, leading to disrupted sleep patterns. To avoid social jet lag, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. If you have to alter your schedule on weekends, try to keep it as close to your regular sleep schedule as possible.
3. Build a Better Sleep Window
Your sleep window is the amount of time you spend sleeping each night. To build up your sleep window, create a consistent sleep schedule that allows for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend sleeping by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach your desired amount of sleep.
4. Put Down Your Screens
Electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and televisions emit blue light that can interfere with your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep. To enhance your sleep quality, turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, engage in relaxing activities like reading or listening to calming music.
5. Choose the right bedding
The mattress you choose should be supportive, but not too firm or too soft. It should be made from materials that are breathable and grown with non-toxic chemicals. Your pillow should be supportive, but not too high or thick. A pillow that's too high can cause neck pain if you're a side sleeper. A pillow that's too thick can cause neck pain if you're a back sleeper.
There are many different types of bedding with each type offering its own unique benefits, so it's important for you to find one that provides support where needed but also conforms to your body shape. Consider talking with a sleep specialist about which type is right for you.
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