(Part 1 of 2: Sleep Quality over Quantity)
While many believe that an excellent night of sleep consists of getting a whole eight hours of sleep, it’s more about the quality of those hours that really count. As more and more sleep studies are being conducted over the years, researchers have found that the amount of sleep a person may need differs from person to person. However, one thing that is consistent across the globe is the impact a quality night of sleep can have on your day. According to Dr. Nancy Wesensten of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who studies sleep in order to help soldiers optimize their rest, says it’s actually fairly simple to quantify quality sleep. “Low-quality sleep is sleep that is interrupted by wakening.” Waking reduces the amount of recuperative sleep time, resulting in frequent disruptions to your sleep cycle, causing you to transition to the lightest sleep stage. If you are interested in tracking your sleep cycles, check out the Sleep Cycle App.
FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO LOW SLEEP QUALITY
Caffeine & Alcohol – Caffeine can cause sleep disruptions up to ten to twelve hours after consuming. Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake. As for alcohol, it will allow you to fall asleep faster, but it will be challenging for your body to sustain any period of deep/recuperative sleep.
WHEN You Eat – Avoid eating too late in the evening; especially larger meals. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
WHAT You Eat – Participants in a recent sleep study, conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, fell asleep faster after eating meals lower in saturated fat and higher in protein. This study found that eating less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep.
Working Too Late – In today’s society we have a tendency to go, go go, as there is always a deadline to maintain. However, this workaholic lifestyle can have dramatic effects on your sleep cycles. Let’s face the facts, after a long work day, how productive are you really being? Why not call it a day, enjoy your evening, recharge your batteries and tackle your next day with a refreshed perspective and attitude. You might be surprised how much more you accomplish in your day when well rested.
Technological Devices – We all love falling asleep to our favorite late night shows, or maybe enjoying a game of bejeweled on our tablet; however, do your best to avoid bright screens within 2 hours of your bedtime. All nighttime light can interfere with sleep and your body’s rhythms, but the blue light emitted by electronics is especially disruptive. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV.