Want to wake up feeling refreshed? Then you need to focus on sleep quantity—how much sleep you get each night—and sleep quality, how well you sleep. Poor sleep quality can make you feel groggy the next day and research suggests it could even be linked to an increased risk of developing several chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s. Determining the quality of your sleep isn’t as straightforward as simply counting the number of hours you get. Watch for signs of poor sleep quality, and learn how to improve it.
Your sleep quality needs to improve if:
- It takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep after you climb into bed.
- You have been diagnosed with insomnia.
- You wake up more than once per night on a regular basis.
- You stay awake for more than 20 minutes after waking up in the middle of the night.
- You spend less than 85 percent of your time in bed asleep.
Now that you know what signals poor sleep quality, follow these five tips to fix the problem:
- Set your bedroom thermostat to somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleeping in a room that is either too warm or too cool interferes with your body’s ability to drift off.
- Stop using electronic devices (like a laptop or smartphone) and turn off your TV at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light these gadgets emit can make falling asleep difficult.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Poor bedtime habits, such as going to bed too early (before you’re tired) or too late (when you are overly tired) can make it more difficult to sleep soundly.
- Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine, such as taking a bubble bath or reading a book. Participating in high-energy activities—think: exercise—lowers the likelihood of an easy transition to sleep.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages within four to six hours of bedtime.
If after trying these suggestions you still feel your sleep quality needs improvement, talk to your doctor; he or she can recommend lifestyle changes, medication or other therapies that may improve how well you sleep.