What Is More Important Quality or Quantity of Sleep?
One may affect your productivity.
Sleep is very confusing.
I could get 8 hours of sleep one day and feel horrible when I wake up.
Then I could turn around and get 6 hours, but be full of energy in the morning.
It depends on a variety of factors, such as how many times I wake up or how long it took to fall back asleep.
There is a common belief that everyone must get 8 hours of sleep.
That is just not true. Not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep per night. Some people function better with far less sleep.
If I were to ask someone how well they slept last night, they will most likely respond with the number of hours that they slept.
It is the quality of sleep, not the quantity of sleep, that has the biggest impact on how well-rested we actually are.
I think this is an important topic to discuss for many reasons. One reason being that roughly 100,000 car accidents per year are a direct result of sleep deprivation.
What you should know about sleep quantity
We can define sleep quantity as how many hours of sleep you need to be fully energized.
This number is going to depend on your age, your lifestyle choices, and your health.
Some adults can function on 6 hours or less of sleep. However, most adults should aim for the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. With that being said, some young adults between 18 to 25 may only need 6 hours per night, while others may require up to 10 hours per night. It is different depending upon the person.
I definitely don’t need 10 hours of sleep per night, but my sister doesn’t function well without at least 9 hours per night.
Only you can truly judge how many hours of sleep you need to be at your best.
Ask yourself these questions about your sleep to determine the right quantity of sleep for you:
- Do you feel happy after sleeping for 7 hours? How about 6 or 8? Or do you need to sleep more than 8 hours to feel productive and ready to tackle the day?
- Do you have to rely on caffeine every day because you feel you didn’t get enough sleep?
- Do you feel drowsy a lot throughout the day at work or when driving?
Do you have any health issues or sleeping disorders?
How to measure sleep quality
Now, sleep quality is a bit different. It refers to how well you actually sleep. If you fall asleep within 30 minutes or less, sleep all the way through the night without waking up more than once, and fall back asleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up, you have good sleep quality.
Bad sleep quality would be if it takes you longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, you find yourself constantly staring at the ceiling or counting sheep, and you cannot stay asleep throughout the night.
My girlfriend constantly wakes up to go pee. I would say she wakes up at least 4 to 5 times a night. This definitely affects her sleep quality.
Balancing sleep quality and quantity
For the best results in relation to how you feel, you should try and find the perfect balance between sleep quality and quantity.
You could sleep 8 hours, but if you wake up multiple times throughout the night, you aren’t going to feel very good the next day.
However, if you get 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, you will feel much better than you would with that same 8 hours of interrupted sleep.
How can you improve your sleep quality?
There are many ways to actually improve your sleep quality. Remember that everyone is different, so not all of these tips may work for you.
- Do use electronic devices that emit blue light, such as a cell phone or computer, within 30 minutes of when you go to sleep.
- Build a consistent sleep schedule. You cannot expect to improve your sleep quality if you are constantly going to bed or waking up at different times. Pick a schedule and try to stick to it within 30 minutes (earlier or later).
- Change the temperature of the room for optimal sleep. If you are sleeping in a room that is either too cold or too hot, you are going to negatively affect your sleep. Try to set the thermostat to between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Do not consume caffeine within 6 hours of when you go to bed. Also, try to avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of when you go to bed. Caffeine will most definitely make it hard to go to sleep. I try not to drink any caffeine past 3 p.m. Alcohol can also interrupt your sleep.
- It is important to limit the total alcohol you are going to drink as well, if you drink at all. If you are having more than one or two drinks per day, it is going to affect your quality of sleep. I personally don’t drink at all.
- Try creating a relaxing bedtime routine. Don’t engage in high-energy activities and expect to fall asleep. I like to read and drink chamomile tea. Taking a bath or shower can help too. Find something relaxing that will tire you out.
- Some people benefit from white noise. My girlfriend uses a fan all year round to drown out the noise. It helps her fall asleep quickly.
- Your environment can affect your sleep as well. Try to make sure your environment is cool, dark, and quiet.
- Don’t eat too much before bed. Dairy and carbohydrates interfere less with sleep, so if you must eat a snack, eat those.
- Do not exercise within 3 hours of when you go to bed because it will keep you up. If done during the day, exercise can actually help you sleep better.
It is up to you to determine what works best for you. I believe I need at least 6 hours of sleep per night. However, it is just as, if not more, important that I sleep throughout the night.
My goal is to be able to fall asleep in 30 minutes or less, stay asleep at least 85% of the night (not wake up more than once), and if i do wake up, fall asleep within 20 minutes.
I do believe quality of sleep to be a bit more important, but they are both important in their own ways. Quality and quantity of sleep are linked.
Therefore, to sleep as well as possible, you need to find how to maximize your sleep quality and also how to find the number of hours of sleep per night that works best for you.
Keeping a sleep log can help! By documenting your sleep, you may be able to determine what works best for you. In this sleep log, include the time you go to bed, the time you wake up, how long you slept, and the number of times that you woke up.
Try these tips and try tracking your sleep! Let me know how it goes!
Thanks for reading!
This story was originally published on Medium: