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Blog Improve Sleep Quality: How to Get Better Sleep & Prevent Poor Quality Sleep

Improve Sleep Quality: How to Get Better Sleep & Prevent Poor Quality Sleep

Better Sleep Quality and How Quality of Sleep is More Important Than Hours of Sleep

Don’t pay a premium to get high quality sleep. Often overlooked when we talk about sleep, the quality of our sleep is also important and integral to well-being, productivity, and overall health. Understanding and improving sleep quality, recognizing the signs of poor sleep, leveraging the right tools for monitoring sleep, and adopting habits for better sleep are essential steps to achieving restful nights.

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What is Sleep Quality?

Sleep quality refers to how well you sleep. It encompasses factors beyond mere sleep duration. Determining sleep quality includes four attributes:

  • Sleep Efficiency: Percentage of time spent asleep while in bed
  • Sleep Latency: Time that it takes to transition from full wakefulness to sleep
  • Sleep Duration: Total amount of sleep obtained
  • Wake After Sleep Onset (WASO): Total time awake after having fallen asleep, a metric that measures the duration of sleep interruption

What are the Qualities of Good Sleep?

Good sleep quality is characterized by several key indicators:

  • Falling asleep within 30 minutes or less.
  • Spending 20-25% of your sleep time in deep sleep stages.
  • Experiencing fewer than one awakening per night.
  • Falling back asleep within 20 minutes if awakenings occur.

Signs & Symptoms of Poor Sleep Quality

Recognizing the signs of poor sleep quality is crucial for addressing sleep issues early. Symptoms of low sleep quality include feeling fatigue upon waking, experiencing daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and slowed responses. A bad night’s sleep also often manifests through irritability, cognitive impairment, and even contributes to headaches.

What are some Causes of Poor Sleep Quality?

Low quality of sleep can be due to various factors, including psychological (stress, anxiety, depression), health conditions, environmental factors (room temperature, device use), and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

How to Prevent Poor Sleep Quality:

  • Avoid smoking before bed. Cigarettes contain nicotine which has a stimulant effect that can make it difficult to fall asleep, negatively affecting sleep quality.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks before bed. Coffees and other caffeinated beverages are stimulants, while alcoholic drinks initially cause drowsiness, it can cause a “rebound effect” once metabolized and actually disrupt sleep later in the night.
  • Avoid meals 4 hours before bedtime. Food consumption too close to bedtime increased the odds of wake after sleep onset (WASO), essentially an interrupted sleep period.
  • Avoid screen time at least 1 hour before bed. Blue light waves are visible light that helps us stay alert and exposure should be limited to allow your body's circadian rhythm to begin.

How does Sleep Quality Affect Overall Health?

Quality Sleep Enhances Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

Quality sleep is imperative for mental health and emotional stability, with studies reporting that improving sleep reduces depression, anxiety, and stress. Sleep helps with stress management and fosters emotional resilience, with proven associations for positive mental health and lowered odds of mental illness and suicidal ideation.

Deep, restorative sleep has also been scientifically proven to significantly enhance cognitive functions, including memory, focus, and creativity. These improvements are directly linked to better academic performance for students and increased productivity at work, emphasizing the critical importance of sleep in daily success.

Better Sleep for Better Physical Health

The physical health benefits of a good night's sleep are extensive and profound. Quality sleep strengthens the immune system, enabling it to function optimally and prevent illnesses. Sleep plays a crucial role in hormone regulation, which affects growth, appetite and metabolism, and is instrumental in maintaining cardiovascular health. This, in turn, supports weight management efforts and reduces the risk of chronic health conditions.

Deep sleep stages are especially vital for the body's regeneration, with strong evidence supporting that ‘sleep helps healing’, which includes cell repair, brain detoxification, and hormonal balance necessary for growth and regulating appetite. These processes are essential for the body's nightly renewal and prepares us for the next day's challenges and opportunities.

Evercool Cooling Comforter, Evercool Cooling Sheet Set on a bed inCool Gray

Does Poor Sleep Increase Risk of Cancer / Promote Growth of Cancer Cells?

Scientific research suggests that chronic poor sleep quality may contribute to the development and progression of cancer cells. Emerging research indicates a potential link between poor sleep and an increased risk of cancer. Chronic disruptions in sleep cycles and poor sleep quality affects the body to repair and regrow tissues, which may contribute to the growth and development of cancer cells.

Can Poor Sleep Quality Contribute to a Headache?

Poor sleep quality has been linked to an increased incidence of headaches, including tension-type headaches and migraines, highlighting how disrupted sleep can exacerbate headache frequency and severity of migraines. The American Migraine Foundation also points out that sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea are common among chronic migraine sufferers.

Poor sleep quality creates a cycle where lack of sleep causes headaches or migraines, and said headaches or migraines affect sleep quality. Breaking out of this cycle and improving sleep quality is vital for managing headache symptoms effectively and requires lifestyle adjustments and healthier sleep hygiene.

Is Sleep Quality More Important than Sleep Quantity?

Despite being one of the most basic and crucial physiological processes for humans, many aspects of sleep remain a mystery. When discussing whether sleep quality or sleep quantity is more important, the old adage of ‘quality over quantity’ rings true for rest too. Studies have associated sleep quality as a more important indicator for overall health compared to sleep quantity or duration.

Many common illnesses and disorders prompted by lack of sleep are more closely related to poor sleep quality, meaning an emphasis should be placed on achieving quality sleep. Obtaining good quality sleep (which is characterized by restfulness, no sleepiness, no need for more sleep, sufficient objective sleep depth, etc.) helps avoid sleep-related health problems.

That said, both sleep quality and sleep quantity are fundamental components in our body’s natural processes and are required in tandem. The results of these studies all found that efforts should be made to improve sleep quality in addition to sleep quantity for optimal health benefits.

How to Improve Sleep Quality and Sleep Quantity?

Improving sleep quality often requires some lifestyle adjustments and adopting healthier habits. A holistic approach and implementing the following strategies can help with getting better sleep:

  • Create a consistent bedtime routine to reinforce and signal to your body’s circadian rhythm that it’s time for sleep
  • Reduce screen use and devices such as smartphones or television at least 1 hour before bedtime to minimize exposure to blue-light, which can cause alertness
  • Regular moderate-intensity exercise can help with sleep quality, while high-intensity physical activities near the evening will have the opposite effect and may lead to difficulty falling asleep
  • Set the bedroom thermostat between 60-67 degree Fahrenheit (15-19 degrees Celsius) to help facilitate the natural decrease in body temperature
  • Minimize light pollution with black-out curtains and consider a white-noise machine to reduce sudden, disruptive noises that can cause awakenings
  • Avoid consuming meals 4-6 hours before bed and do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages which can disrupt sleep.

Does your Mattress Affect your Sleep Quality?

As part of our sleep environment, choosing the right mattress can determine sleep quality, and either help or hinder sleep quality. Issues such as lower back pain are reported to most likely cause poor sleep quality. Researchers pointed to medium-firm mattresses as best at providing comfort and contributing to better quality sleep. Other personal choices with equally impactful benefits, include the bedding and pillow types we use on the mattress, and sleepwear fabric.

Evercool® Cooling Comforter

Evercool® Cooling Sheet Set

Utilizing sheets and bedding that are cooling can help with achieving a lower thermal environment, which is more conducive to sleep. As we often reach for the ‘cool side of the pillow’, bedding that feels cool to the touch (measured using Qmax value) can help hot sleepers who may have awakenings due to night sweats. Products like Rest Evercool® Cooling Comforter were purpose-made for those suffering from overheating during sleep and wicks moisture to ensure a restorative night.

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