Sleep quantity is important (see our “How long should you sleep” article) but sleep quality is just as vital. While the former is easy to measure and determine if it is sufficient, the latter is slightly more complicated to measure. The National Sleep Foundation (2020) use four items to assess sleep quality: sleep latency, sleep waking, wakefulness, and sleep efficiency.
Measurements of Good Sleep Quality
If one or more of these measurements are worse than recommended, you likely suffer from poor sleep quality. It is worth considering that sleep is still quite individual and subjective and factors such as age can affect what is normal for you. However, if you are feeling tired and moody regularly, it’s likely that your sleep lacks in quantity or quality. So how can we improve our sleep quality?
Improving Sleep Quality to Sleep Better
There are several simple things that you can do or avoid doing in order to quickly improve your sleep quality. Of the things you should avoid doing, these are the most important:
- Avoid excessive caffeine intake, especially after 2PM
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol, especially before bed
- Avoid blue light (such as that from a phone or laptop) 1 to 2 hours before bed
- Avoid drinking too much liquids before bed
As for the things that you should do, these are our top recommendations:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule
- Exercise regularly (but not right before bed)
- Keep your room as dark as possible or use a face mask
- Keep your room cool- about 18 degrees Celsius is ideal
- Use natural bedding products that are comfortable for you
- Don’t eat right before bed and keep your dinners light
- Read before bed (only from book or e-reader to avoid blue light)
- Open your window for at least 15 minutes before bedtime
- Shower before going to bed
*It is important to note that if you are suffering from a sleep disorder such as insomnia you should consult a specialist to give you specific advice for your condition.
Tracking If You Sleep Better
If you follow our tips, you should feel improvements in your sleep quality right away. However, if you want more granular information to see if you sleep better or not, you can do so using devices and applications that check and mark your progress. Nowadays there are a lot of sleep tracking applications and devices to monitor your sleep quality. Amongst the best and most popular are SleepScore, SleepWatch, Sleep++, Sleep Cycle, and PrimeNap. We are not affiliated with these apps and we advise you to do further research on your own to find the one that would best suit your needs if you do decide to use one. What they do is they track your sleep to produce sleep patterns, sleep quality scores, provide feedback and recommendations, and can help you learn more about your sleep and the ways in which you can improve it. While most apps use your phone, some (such as SleepWatch) work best if you have a wearable device such as a smart watch. Both the devices and the apps can get quite expensive, which is worth considering before deciding whether to use them or not. However, if you do decide to use them, they can be quite helpful and informative but they should not replace a doctor in case you have a serious sleep disorder.
Both the quantity and quality of your sleep are important in order for you to feel properly refreshed after each evening. We are committed to giving you all the needed information on the science behind sleep coupled with advice on how you can improve your sleep. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest information on the subject and notifications on the next time we publish an article. Also follow us on social media where we regularly post useful and interesting information on the topic of sleep. Good night!