Iowa Sleep Blog

Quality vs. Quantity – What’s More Important for Sleep?

Monday, April 25, 2016

In the busy lives of people in the U.S., the phrase, “you can sleep when you’re dead” is used all too often. In reality, sleep is an extremely important part of keeping our bodies operating in tip-top shape. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between how you feel after a good night’s sleep, and how you feel when you’ve been burning the midnight oil.

Many people, especially postpartum mothers, receive highly fragmented sleep, which means you might be sleeping a lot, such as getting in a couple short catnaps, but you’re still probably getting up every hour or so to tend to a fussy child. This means they are not spending enough time asleep to actually hit their REM cycle, making the sleep they are getting useless. But at least they’re sleeping some, right? Not the case. When it comes to sleep, quality outweighs quantity. Below, we gathered five ways to help you achieve quality sleep each time your head hits the pillow:

  1. Consider using a facemask – They look a little weird, but if you live in a neighborhood that is lit throughout the night, but you’re hesitant to use black- out shades, consider a facemask. They help to block out all lights, ensuring that you will be able to fall asleep and stay asleep until your alarm sounds in the morning.
  2. Stick to a schedule – Yes, even on Saturdays and Sundays, it’s important to wake and fall asleep at the same time each day. If that is a little hard to follow, try to at least stay within one hour of your normal sleep schedule on the weekends.
  3. Make healthier choices in the afternoon – While it’s important to load up on a healthy breakfast in the morning, it might be what you’re doing in the afternoon that is affecting your sleep quality. Work to limit caffeine and sugar intake in the afternoon, and if you can, take a walk around the block for some fresh air. Exercising even 30 minutes a day can help you sleep easier at night.
  4. Take your work out of the bedroom – If you routinely take your laptop to bed or check emails after lights-out, stop! Your bedroom should be used for two things: sleep and sex. Everything else, like watching TV, doing homework or even working out, should be done elsewhere.
  5. Establish a bedtime routine – Olympic sprinters utilize a warm-up routine before a race, and you probably practice your presentation before a speaking engagement. So why don’t more people prepare for sleep? Create a routine you can follow each night at a specific time, such as turning off your electronics, having a cup of tea and reading a book for 20 minutes before turning in. Maybe it’s taking a warm shower or tidying up the house – anything to signal your body that it’s time for sleep.

No matter how much you sleep, there is no substitute for quality sleep, each and every night. Believe us, you will be able to tell the difference. If you’re struggling to wake each morning feeling refreshed, there might be another issue at work, such as a sleep disorder. Our team of sleep doctors can talk to you more about your sleep habits to pinpoint what is keeping you awake and develop ways to get you sleeping well each night. Call us to set up an appointment, or in the meantime, send us a question through our easy online form to learn more about how to sleep well.