Sleep Quality

Most of us know adults need between 7-9 hours sleep per night (you may need to increase this if you’re ill or recovering from a serious injury/surgery). But what about the quality of your sleep?

What if I tell you I eat 7 fruit and veg a day – sounds good. But what if I then tell you I deep fry all of my fruit and veg and eat it with a sugary salty sauce. Not so good anymore… Sleep is the same. You need good quality sleep to function optimally.

To improve your quality of sleep you need to ensure your sleeping environment is optimised and creating a simple bedtime routine can also help. A routine will let your body know it’s time for bed and will help you get to sleep quicker.

Below are a few tips I would suggest you implement:

  • No caffeine or alcohol at least 4 hours (ideally 8 hours) before going to sleep, this includes coffee, energy drinks, some fizzy drinks and certain tea  – it can take up to 8 hours to fully wear off.
  • Stop using bright screen devices at least 30 minutes before your bedtime (ideally at least 1-2 hours). The blue lights emitted from your phone, computer, tablets or TV are very disruptive to your sleep patterns (suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and reduces the amount of REM sleep).
  • Switch mobile phone off or switch to aeroplane mode and leave it on the opposite side of the room or keep it outside the room completely. This will remove any temptation of using it.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule – going to bed and getting up at the same time every day including weekends.
  • Keep your room as dark as possible. Switch off all devices in your room, don’t leave them on stand-by. Alternatively, purchase a pair of blackout eye masks.
  • Keep your room cool. Around 16-18 degrees is a best for most people.
  • Ensure the room is quite.
  • Try to spend a few minutes focusing on your breathing. This can be done by lying down and inhaling for 3 seconds and exhaling for 6 seconds. This is very good for anyone who has problems trying to switch off.
  • Writing down any things/thoughts that need to be dealt with tomorrow. This is also another good way to help switch off.

 

Reducing The Number of Hours You Sleep

If you have a busy schedule, a deadline you need to meet or an exam the next day, cutting back on sleep may seem like a good option. But reducing sleep can affect your mental sharpness, energy levels and health.

Ever had a bad night sleep and then gone to the gym. Within a few minutes, you realise you can’t perform anywhere near your usually level. This is only one night’s bad sleep, imagine the effect if this is done for a long period of time.

When people are stressed and want more time to work on something, sleep is usually the first thing they cut but you may want to think twice about that.

 

References

NSF – Sleep Time Duration Recommendations
Drake C. 2013  – Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed 
Kang SG. 2016 – Decrease in fMRI brain activation during working memory performed after sleeping under 10 lux light 
Chang AM . 2015 – Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness
Kang HJ. 2009  – Effects of an irregular bedtime schedule on sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue among university students in Taiwan 
Okamoto-Mizuno K. 2009 – Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm 
Gradisar M. 2006 – Do chronic primary insomniacs have impaired heat loss when attempting sleep? 
Huffington Post – Choosing the Best Temperature for Sleep