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Help yourself to sleep efficiency

You’ve probably got used to the notion of efficiency ratings. Your fridge, your car, your insulation: all these are judged by their efficiency. You may not have realised that your sleep can be too.

The amount of time spent asleep in relation to the amount of time spent in bed is known as sleep efficiency. 80-85% is considered optimal, while below 75% is considered a sign of poor quality sleep. [1] These busy days, with so many people coping with hectic schedules, constant caffeine intake and very little rest and relaxation, sleep is often illusive. The reasons for tackling this are compelling:

  • People getting less than 7 hours sleep per night are almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those achieving more than 8 hours per night. [2]
  • After a night of only 4 hours sleep, calorie intake can rise by up to 22%.[3]
  • Patients with resistant hypertension high blood pressure that doesn’t come down even when on as many as three different medications for it have been found to sleep 33.8 minutes less than those with controlled hypertension and 37.2 minutes less than those with normal blood pressure. [4]

What’s more, when you enter REM or rapid eye movement sleep, when most dreams occur, you are better able to solve a new problem the next day with lateral thinking. So sleeping on it really can work.

After a night of only 4 hours sleep, calorie intake can rise by up to 22%

Tips on improving sleep efficiency:

  • Keeping to a consistent sleeping schedule – going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  • Consider taking a nap during the day – power naps from ten to thirty minutes in the afternoon is best. Any longer that this, will risk falling into a deep sleep.
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol at night – the stimulating effects of caffeine can disrupt your sleep quality.
  • Try a mixture of Valerian and Hops to improve the way your body slips into sleep from a wakeful state, as well as increasing the likelihood of your subsequent sleep moving through all the stages including REM sleep, so that you wake refreshed and ready to solve those problems.
  • Keep the distractions at bay – switch off electronic devices and turn the lights off. Earplugs are also good to use to eliminate background noises.

References

[1] BMJ 2008; 337: a1245.

[2] Cohen S et al. Archives of Internal Medicine 2009; Vol. 169 (1): 62-67

[3] Bronel L et al. Am J Clin Nutr (March 31, 2010) doi10.3945/ajcn.2009.28523

[4] Friedman O et al. American Journal of Hypertension 2010; 23 2, 174–179

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