Lately, have you been waking up feeling too tired or have been forgetting things too easily? Do you feel like your mind has been playing games with you with symptoms of brain fog, headaches, and turbulent mood swings? Well, it may be due to your stress level at work or at home, but the lack of quality sleep may be the underlying factor. While we give priority to our everyday chores and compromise on sleep just to earn a few extra hours per day, our bodies may have a different point of view.
An adult human body requires a minimum of 7 hours of quality sleep. But even if you end up sleeping 7 hours a day, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can reap the benefits of your slumber. A lot depends on what really happens in those 7 hours. Getting enough hours of sleep is important but getting good quality sleep is also essential.
Dr YongChiat Wong explains why we need to sleep well. He is the Group Scientist, Medical & Technical Affairs, P&G Health – Asia Pacific, India, Middle East, and Africa:
So, what do you mean by quality sleep?
In simple words, the quality of sleep can be measured with respect to how well you’re sleeping. To be precise, it means measuring whether your sleep is restorative and restful. Quality sleep is not similar to satisfying sleep, something that depends on your personal judgement of how you feel after a good night’s rest. The quality of sleep can be measured based on 4 criteria:
- Sleep Efficiency: It is the amount of time that you are actually asleep in your bed versus the total time in bed. The ideal value is 85% or more.
- Sleep Waking: This simply refers to how often we wake up during the night. Frequent waking up during the night can alter your sleep cycle and eventually reduce your sleep quality. The lesser you wake up, the better your sleep quality is.
- Sleep Latency: This refers to how long it take for you to fall asleep. Dozing off within 30 minutes or less after you go to bed can indicate a good quality of sleep.
- Wakefulness: It refers to the amount of time that you spend awake during the night after you go to sleep. Twenty minutes or less can indicate good quality of sleep.
These 4 aspects together make up the formula for “Quality Sleep”. By keeping a track of these 4 aspects, you would be able to decode and understand the quality of your sleep. A night of poor-quality sleep can grow into a hindrance to your day-to-day activities in life and in turn change the course of how you feel, think and act. Poor sleep quality makes us error-prone and can have long-term mental and physical consequences such as:
- Cognitive effects and poor mental health
- Cancer risk
- Obesity risk
- Reduction in immunity
- Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality
- Diabetes risk
- Personal injury
It is high time that we start actioning ways to improving our sleep quality since quality sleep is essential, not just the sleep duration.
So, how can we achieve quality restorative sleep?
Simple strategies may be helpful if you’re worried that the quality of your sleep isn’t up to the level. For instance, ensure that your bedroom is cool (between 16 and 20 °C is recommended) and completely dark (use blackout curtains to prevent outside streetlights). You may also improve the quality of your sleep by making other lifestyle changes, such as quitting drinking alcohol, increasing your physical activity, or consuming sleep supplements containing melatonin and chamomile among others.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about sleep supplements with melatonin and/or herbs. If you are experiencing long-term sleep difficulties, consult a healthcare professional to identify and treat any underlying causes.