Good sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind. Anxiety, stress, and uncertainty can all interfere with your ability to sleep peacefully at night, especially with the current global health crisis.
Sleep is crucial for our mental, emotional and physical well-being. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to irritability, lack of concentration, and daytime tiredness. Studies have also shown that 8 hours of sleep is linked to greater life satisfaction. This belief has been held for years. It is believed that a certain number of hours of sleep per night will affect how alert and refreshed you feel the next morning. Many researchers refute this notion. Are 8 hours of mediocre sleep more important than 6 hours of restful sleep?
If you feel tired and inactive, the first thing that comes to mind is, “I need more sleep tonight so that I can make up the lost hours.” Research suggests that your sleep quality may affect your ability to function throughout the day. Participants who slept less than 6 hours per night were more active than those who slept 8 hours, provided their sleep quality was good.
A closer look at sleep
While we sleep, there are unique stages of sleep that we go through. These stages are crucial for maintaining balance in our bodies functions. There are two main types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid.
The Non-REM portion of sleep occurs first when we are asleep. The Non-REM part of sleep consists of three stages.
Stage 1 This stage lasts 5-10 minutes and is considered light sleep. This stage is easier to wake up in than the previous stage.
Stage 3 Deep sleep is achieved. Deep sleep causes your heart rate to slow down and your blood pressure to drop. This stage is where you feel the most relaxed. You will feel refreshed the next morning if you get enough NREM sleep. NREM Stage 3 is linked to tissue repair, bone and muscle strength building, and immune system boosters.
Initial REM sleep occurs approximately 90 minutes after a person falls asleep. It typically lasts about 10 minutes. The amount of time in REM sleep increases as the night progresses. This stage of sleep is thought to be responsible for dreaming, creating new memories and controlling the central nervous system.
Research shows that deep sleep time decreases with age. A 70-year-old will get half as much deep sleep as someone 20 years old. However, the amount of time in the REM stage doesn’t decrease as we age. As we age, many fall asleep easily and wake up frequently in the middle of the night.
Poor sleep quality and frequent sleep disturbances have been linked with multiple issues, including memory problems, impaired immune system functioning, and psychological disorders like depression and anxiety.
Signs that you are getting good quality sleep
A feeling of refreshed news upon waking is the best indicator that you are getting good quality sleep. Here are other indicators that you have had good quality sleep.
- You will fall asleep faster if you can take less than 30 minutes to fall asleep once you get to bed.
- Sleep quality will improve if you spend at least 85 percent of your time in bed.
- Sleeping all night: This indicates how disturbed your sleep habits are. Consistent sleep is essential to move through each stage of sleep.
- Easy fall back to sleep: Even if you wake up at night, you will have a better sleep quality if your return to sleep is within 20 minutes.
You can improve your sleep quality by creating a relaxing sleep routine that helps you relax and unwind before bed. Do not check your WhatsApp or read the news at this time. Instead, take a relaxing bath, read a book, listen to soothing music, or meditate for a few moments.
To maintain healthy sleeping habits, it is important to be consistent. Although it might be difficult at first, you will soon notice an improvement in your sleep quality.