Personal productivity

11 Powerful Yet Actionable Tips for improved sleep quality

Are you seeking ways to improve your sleep quality?

And many of the resources you meet online either fails to hit the spot or do not provide clear practicability.

Sleep is a natural phenomenon in which all mammals- humans included- must undergo to ensure continuity.

Having anything short of quality sleep could lead to an array of challenges.

Some of which are, poor concentration, memory loss, and extreme fatigue.

The quality of your sleep also plays a massive role in cognitive performance, daily activities, and your health status in the long run.

sleep quality improvement

This written piece tries to answer your question without too many technical and ambiguous terms?

So it is safe to say that improved sleep quality, is crucial for getting results in our daily endeavors. 

Before the end of this article, I would present to you, a pro tip that I use to get the most out of my shuteye.

WHAT IS SLEEP QUALITY AND ITS MEASUREMENT

Before we go into the crux of the discussion, let us take a step back to know what sleep quality is and how it can be measured.

Sleep quality can be defined in objective or subjective terms.

The objective definition of sleep quality encompasses all the observed facts of what Sleep Quality is.

By using objective measures of sleep, such as polysomnography, sleep quality can be characterized by the amount of slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep one gets at night. 

SWS is deep sleep and it has a restorative function whereas both REM and SWS function toward memory consolidation.

These 2 stages of sleep occur with various duration as the night progresses. More on this in the following sections.

By using polysomnography and actigraphy, sleep quality can be defined by sleep efficiency (SE), as well as sleep-onset latency (SOL), the amount of time one takes to fall asleep at night. 

sleep quality for better sleep at night

Subjective measures of sleep quality are perceived from individual or candidates point of view. 

It can be obtained by questionnaires. 

Herein, participants would provide details according to research needs then further analysis of sleep quality is made using various models.

A typical example is the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire. 

There are so many others that are used.

SLEEP QUALITY VS QUANTITY

What should I gun for?

Should I sleep better or more?

It’s worthy to note that sleep quality and sleep quantity share a bunch of similarities;

They both have objective and subjective means of measurement

And most importantly, they have roles to play in ensuring your body benefits from the functions of sleep.

Differences between sleep quality and quantity

Sleep QualitySleep Quantity
Takes into account the aesthetic nature of your sleepconsiders the amount of sleep you get
Strongly associated with productivity levelsSome studies indicate a relationship between large amounts of sleep and cognitive decline
Borders on the various NREM and REM stages of sleep and how you go through eachBorders on how long you spend in bed asleep and how quickly you catch some Zs[Sleep Onset Latency(SOL)].
Sleep quality Vs quantity

Verdict.

I for one would be more interested in getting quality sleep rather than sleeping for longer durations or sleeping two or three times within a 24 hour period.

What do you think?

SLEEP QUALITY SLEEP CYCLE

What does a quality sleep cycle look like?

A lot happens in your body while you sleep. When you fall asleep, you cycle between REM and NREM stages of sleep.

Each cycle holds for an estimated period of 90 minutes until you finally wake.

During Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, your eyes move around rapidly in a range of directions but no visual information is conveyed to or registered in the brain.

That doesn’t happen during non-REM sleep.

First comes non-REM sleep, followed by a shorter period of REM sleep, and then the cycle starts over again.

sleep quality

Non-REM Sleep Cycle

There are three phases of non-REM sleep. Each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes. You go through all three phases before reaching REM sleep

Stage 1 

By this stage you’ve passed the Sleep Onset Latency (SOL) so your eyes are closed, but it’s easy to wake you up. 

By the way, this is the stage your seatmate wakes you up cause you’re nodding quite ferrociously in class.

Or in the office, as your head jingles viciously because you slept only 3 hours.

You feel drowsy because the transition from being awake to falling asleep has begun. 

In this stage bodily functions eye movements and brain activity begin to slow down.

And because of this the brain’s activity and the brain’s waves also slowdown gradually. 

This phase may last for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stage 2: 

You are in a light sleep. Your heart rate slows and your body temperature drops. This sets the moood for deep sleep.

This stage makes about 50% of the sleep cycle thus, this makes it the stage you’re most likely to fall into. 

By now You’ve put you put your head down on the desk.

You are well asleep but not yet in deep sleep

During this stage, the muscle begin to relax and slowing of bodily systems continue.

This can last for 10-25 minutes.

sleep cycle sleep quality

Stages 3: 

This is the final phase of NREM sleep stage. 

Deep sleep occurs in this stage and it’s harder to rouse you and may take some taps to get you awake.

Then your teacher and classmates calls your name to wake you up but to no avail.

So your seatmate taps you 6 times before you show a sign of life.

You wake and you’re like

During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.

Wikipedia

This where most of the magic occurs, during deep and restorative sleep.

You wake up feeling refreshed.

As you get older, you sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also linked to shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show you still need as much sleep as when you were younger.

So, all the more why you need to improve your sleep quality.

During this stage, your breathing and heartbeat are at their slowest and your muscles are relaxed. 

The brain waves are also the slowest possible during this stage of deep sleep. 

The initial stage of deep sleep generally has a duration between forty-five to ninety minutes. 

This phase has a longer duration during the first half of the night and starts to decrease in length with each cycle over the course of the night.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep

Usually, REM sleep takes place within 90 minutes after Sleep Onset Latency. 

SOL is the threshold that seperates sleepiness from wakefullness.

The first period of REM typically lasts 10 minutes and consecutive REM stages gets longer.

Eventually, the final one lasts up to 1 hour marked with quickened heart rate and breathing 

Adults spend about 20% of their sleep duration in the REM stage.

REM is important because it stimulates the areas of the brain that help with learning and memory consolidation.

High brain activities and rapid eye movements from side to side occurs.

It is during this stage that dreams occurs and possible muscle paralysis.

Learn more about sleep paralysis.

It is important for your body to pass through these stages inorder for your body to reap each of the benefits they pose.

Tips for improved sleep quality

#1. Work on your habits

Eating patterns indicative of poor dietary habits should be addressed.

A research showed that nocturnal food in-take negatively influences sleep quality, which may be mediated by postprandial discomfort due to reduced digestive activity. 

It is possible that pre-bedtime food consumption, of any kind, in those who typically do not eat before bedtime negatively influences sleep.

However, in those who eat before bedtime, choosing the right nighttime snack may be important in modifying their sleep quality.

Also if you use any substance. Alcohol or drug-related. You may need to put a leash on them as they are tired to severe sleep imbalances.

#2. Fix your sleep schedule:

Irrespective of the pattern of sleep that is observed in your body, you need to bring your sleep schedule under serious scrutiny.

Unveiling and eliminating the foreign culprit behind your irregular sleep and wake times causes a significant increase in your sleep quality.

Sleeping and waking at regular times, engenders the full potential of both monophasic and biphasic forms of sleep. 

This is the formula I use to fix my sleep schedule. It works every time.

#3. Increase light exposure during the day

It is without doubts that the sun is a natural regulator of the circadian rhythm. 

Having sufficient exposure to light allows for cortisol production and cause wakefulness. 

This allows for sleep pressure to build.

This would mean no exposure for night shift workers and consumption of energy drinks and coffee at night to keep awake.

#4. Reduce blue light exposure during the night

Blue light exposure can delay the Sleep Onset Latency keeping your awake for longer hours.

Best advice is to stay away from phones and other devices that emit light.

But if you need to be on your devices, then turning on blue filter mode may alleviate the effect a little.

#5. No late caffeine consumption:

The  quarter life of caffeine is 12hrs.

Thich means that after 12 hours, quarter of the total volume of caffeine consumed will remain in the brain.

 This caffeine residue blocks adenosine receptors in the brain causing wakefulness

Adenosine is a chemical substance responsible for sleep pressure. And when adenosine concentration peaks, an irresistible sleep desire is felt. 

It takes a total of 24-36 hours for caffeine to leave the brain completely.

But the body doesn’t need all the caffeine amounts to be eliminated, it just needs roughly 75%.

And takes roughly about 12-16 hours for adenosine concentration to peak.

Too many numbers? This short survey will help you create a synergy between caffeine consumption and sleep quality.

#6. Avoid Alcohol:

Alcohol is a sedative and sedation is not the same as sleep according to [insert book]

Alcohol will knock your lights out literally due to its low Sleep Onset latency (SOL).

But your goal isn’t just to fall asleep, it’s to get quality sleep.

So you need sleep that is deep which is the…….. [ fill in the blank].

You got it, The 3rd stage of NREM.

Why NREM?

That’s because, during Non Rapid Eye Movement, brain activity is reduced to minimum and restorative functions occur.

Alcohol will get you to sleep but will cause many wake periods thereby keeping you in the REM cycle an hampering your sleep quality,

A person overdosed with alcohol is very likely to wake up multiple time to released the bladder- you know what I mean.

If you want a better sleep quality, then you MUST abstain from Alcohol and its counterpart.

Not excluding, the propensity for strong dependance and abuse.

#7. Optimize sleep for your body.

The putative standard of 8 hours of sleep, is gradually becoming deprecated.

This is because the duration of sleep is dependent on these factors;

  • Age
  • Lifestyle 
  • Circumstances.

Therefore if you wake up feeling like you need more sleep, then make preparations to give it more the following day.

If you sleep for shorter hours and there is no strain on your focus and strength, Then you need to keep it constant in order to maximize productivity.

Nothing less nothing more irrespective of whether you undergo biphasic or polyphasic forms of sleep patterns.

#8. Establish a conducive environment; 

The body needs to drop its temperature by 2 degrees in order for it to set the mood for sleep.

So,

  • Improve the ventilation,
  • rearrange the room in a way that ensures you’re getting the most of whatever ventilation devices are being used. 
  • Take a lukewarm bath before bed. 
  • Have some Toys or stuffed animals laying around.
  • Have a comfortable cologne going on in the room
  • Install some dim lights to set the moood.[having a hard time letting the auto-correct functionality accept this as it’s on purpose].

#9. Don’t Pull an all-nighter

You don’t have to make this mistake, I already did.

No matter what happens. Do not attempt to stay awake throughout the night.

If anything is going to mess up your sleep schedule the quickest, It has got to be not sleeping for an entire day.

But I am a student and I have to burn candles during school night in order to study for my exams.

Not an exception.

It has been putatively agreed that students who stayed up all night incurred a reduction in performance due to tiredness and inability to focus during exam papers.

Even a greater percentage of students suffered from memory loss when they pulled an all-nighter.

The brain needs the energy to assimilate and consolidate information. One way it gains energy is through sleep.

Binging the entire night as well during holidays would mean that you have to sleep during the day. 

Or you consume coffee to stay woke which leads to depression of adenosine receptors and cause caffeine crash.

Either ways, a strain is placed on your sleep quality.

#10. Go natural.

Sleep is a natural phenomenon and so it is only befitting we approach in the same manner

There are natural ways we could improve our quality of sleep.

An example is through exercise.

Exercising holds a direct and mutual relationship with sleep quality.

A quality sleep at night would mean more strength and energy to partake in activities that put the body to test.

On the other hand, during exercise there is an increase in body temperature and a temperature drop that follows subsequently after exercising.

A drop in body temperature is a recipe for sleep.

Exercising would cause  better muscle relaxation during sleep.

There is also the use of certain sleep apps that rings alarm when there’s movement towards the end of an allocated sleep duration.

There are other natural ways to enable you to sleep better at night.

PRO TIP[ As promised]

Now for the encore!!!!!!!!

[cheers in the background and me nodding my big head]

#11. Have at it

Keep an attentive ear to when your sleep pressure heightens.

There are times you feel really sleepy. Edge it until the sleep sensation is at its peak. Then

Go for it! 

Because if you don’t succumb to the pressure by going to sleep, the body registers that event as “not ready to sleep” so it readjusts the circadian rhythm and more cortisol is produced. 

When you’re finally ready to sleep, the sensation is no longer present, Then you lay awake on your bed staring at the ceiling. Or even forcing yourself to sleep making your mind wander and become restless.

I can relate to that. It’s not the best feeling.

It is not always easy though.

It is easier said than done.

There are times when the sleep pressure hits at inconvenient times, like when we are trying to get some evening chores done or some assignments turned in.

It becomes a battle for priority. Treat it as such. 

What is more important to you?

Getting some quality sleep or whatever it is you are doing at that moment?

I have literally experienced times when I am trying to get a report ready for submission the next day and a wave of sleep hit.

You don’t fight the force, you become one with it.

Then I dive into the sauce of sleep and let tomorrow sort itself out.

Or better still, get some sleep, wake up early and see it to its completion

That’s better than staying up all night to get the report done, submitting the next day [assuming it is not postponed], and then battling with sleep in front of many for the rest of the day.

Conclusion 

It’s been quite an informative and enjoyable one. So let’s bring it together.

Sleep is a natural phenomenon in which all mammals- humans included- must undergo to ensure continuity.

Having anything short of quality sleep could lead to an array of challenges.

Some of which are, poor concentration, memory loss, and extreme fatigue.

11 powerful yet actionable tips on how to improve your sleep quality has been provided to you.

They are designed to yield results so go ahead and put them to practice.

You’d know your sleep is better when you wake up feeling refreshed and attentive.

If you found this useful, kindly share on your favorite social media by hitting the share buttons.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blogpost is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Any information discussed are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease or illness.

What tip(s) are you adopting tonight?

sleep quality improvement

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