Which Is More Important: Sleep Quality or Sleep Quantity?
Just about everyone has heard the advice that the average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, many adults do not get this recommended amount of sleep.
At the same time, there are many individuals who may seem like they are getting the “right” number of hours of rest each night, but are still exhausted and fatigued the next morning.
As it turns out, there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer to this situation. By understanding your specific needs and the issues that are keeping you from enjoying the quantity and quality of sleep you deserve, you can take key steps to feeling better rested.
Do You Actually Need Seven to Nine Hours of Sleep?
While the seven to nine hours guideline is a good recommendation for most adults, it shouldn’t be viewed as a hard and fast rule. In fact, a recent study reveals that so-called “elite sleepers” may only need four to six hours of sleep each night to get the rejuvenating effects of a full night’s sleep.
As one of the study’s authors, neurologist Louis Ptacek, explained, “Think of it as analogous to height; there’s no perfect amount of height, each person is different. We’ve shown that the case is similar for sleep.”
As the study explains, the brain goes through a series of “tasks” each night during sleep, such as processing memories and eliminating toxins. For some people, their brains finish these tasks in a much shorter timeframe, meaning they are ready to wake up fully refreshed after a much shorter period.
Regardless of Quantity, Quality Matters
The ideal number of hours of sleep a person needs at night can vary — but if those hours aren’t filled with “quality” sleep, you likely won’t feel well-rested in the morning.
Quality sleep means your body is able to go through four to six sleep cycles, in which you go through the four sleep stages. It is especially important that you sleep soundly enough to get to the stage known as “deep sleep,” which is believed to be the most important for the body’s recovery, as well as strengthening your immune system and improving key brain functions such as memory and insightful thinking.
Deep sleep typically lasts from 20 to 40 minutes in each cycle — however, as the third stage in a sleep cycle, it typically doesn’t begin until you have been asleep for at least an hour.
Interruptions to sleep — whether because of a noisy roommate or a sleep disorder like sleep apnea — can keep you from reaching the deep sleep stage. They might even awaken you from a deep sleep.
Even if you lie in bed for nine hours, sleep that is filled with constant interruptions will hardly be rejuvenating. You will likely suffer from extreme fatigue, as well as increased irritability and moodiness, and trouble concentrating. You may also be more likely to fall asleep during daytime activities.
Quick Tips to Improve Sleep Quality and Quantity
Improving your sleep hygiene is vital for ensuring that you get the appropriate number of hours of sleep, and that those hours in bed are filled with quality sleep.
First, establish a consistent bedtime — and a consistent bedtime routine. Research indicates that going to bed by 10 PM is the most beneficial for going through an appropriate number of sleep cycles during the night. Going to bed at the same time each night (even on weekends), will make it easier to fall asleep quickly, as your body will come to associate this time with going to sleep.
You can also prepare for bedtime by going through a relaxing pre-bedtime routine each night. Activities such as taking a warm bath, journaling, practicing yoga, or meditating can help calm your body and mind at the end of a long day and put you in the right frame of mind for sleep.
You should also pay close attention to your bedroom environment. Noise and light can significantly disrupt sleep, resulting in frequent nighttime awakenings and making it harder to fall asleep in the first place. Equipping your room with blackout curtains or a sound machine or wearing a sleep mask or earplugs to bed will help.
Finally, don’t overlook the possibility of a sleep disorder. Sleep apnea, for example, can cause dozens of awakenings each hour of the night as fatty tissue in the neck blocks the body’s airways. The lack of oxygen forces your body to wake up to restart normal breathing. Insomnia can keep you from falling asleep, or cause you to wake up and stay awake in the middle of the night. Such disorders can be identified in a sleep study, in which a sleep expert can also prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.
Improve Your Sleep With Help Medical Supplies
Regardless of other steps you take to improve your sleep, untreated sleep apnea can keep you from getting the rejuvenating rest your mind and body need. Of course, if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you have likely seen how expensive CPAP equipment and accessories can be if you don’t have health insurance coverage.
This is where Help Medical Supplies comes in. We offer a wide range of discounted CPAP machines from leading brands, as well as exclusive bundle packages that make it even easier to start your treatment. With free shipping on orders of $89 and up, as well as available financing on purchases of $500 or more, getting the right equipment to enjoy quality sleep doesn’t have to break the bank.
By taking actionable steps to control your sleep apnea, you’ll get the sleep quality and quantity you need.