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How Important is Knowing Your Sleep Efficiency Rating?

Sleep efficiency is measured by the amount of time spent getting quality sleep, as opposed to the amount of time spent lying in bed.

Nearly everyone has had that dreaded feeling before: looking at your watch or alarm clock and thinking "I have to sleep some more because my alarm will be going off". But then you are so stressed out that you can't get to sleep. 

Or maybe you're so worried about sleeping in that you wake every hour, just to check you have not missed your alarm. If this sounds like something you have done before, then you may score a low rating if you were to take a sleep study.

Quality sleep consists of the amount of full sleep cycles your body goes through in any one night. There are five stages of sleep that complete one cycle. A person's sleep can be interrupted in numerous ways and many of the following factors can come into play when trying to achieve quality sleep.

There are many different types of sleep disorders. Although they all have their own symptoms and causes, they are all characterized by the same problem. The main problem is the inability to achieve a good level of sleep efficiency. These disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy and delayed sleep phase. 

If you suffer from any of these sleep disorders it could be time to seek professional treatment. Some of them, especially sleep apnea and insomnia, can lead to long term health issues so the earlier in life these are diagnosed, the easier it could be to prevent your health from being seriously damaged. 

With the current economic climate as it is, work schedules can often be long and extremely stressful. Could your job be the reason you are not achieving quality sleep? According to a recent study in the UK, the average hours of work is now at 43.6 hours per week with some people even working up to 60 hours just to provide for their families. With the average work day coming up to nearly 9 hours, not including travel time, it can be difficult to fit quality sleeping time into your schedule.

sleep efficiencyMedical studies show that one of the keys to improving your sleep efficiency, as far as work is concerned, is being able to leave your worries or concerns from work at work. Many people fail to do this and end up bringing their work stress home with them. This can be the start of a vicious cycle that could affect the quality of your sleep.  

This can be one of the main reasons parents or guardians of children, especially under 10 years of age, suffer from poor quality sleep. All sorts of issues can arise when it comes to children and families. 

Babies or toddlers obviously need round-the-clock care, which means feeding and changing at regular intervals throughout the night. 

Having to get up during the night will upset the amount of full sleep cycles your body goes through. Children of all ages can be prone to night terrors or illnesses, which will require more time spent during your supposed sleeping hours caring and tending to their needs. 

How You Choose to Sleep Effects Your Sleep Efficiency

sleep efficiencySleeping conditions and sleeping positions can have a big impact on the amount of quality sleep achieved through the night. If your bedroom is too warm or too cold, research suggests that you could be prone to a restless night of sleep. 

This is due to the body’s inability to achieve an optimum sleeping temperature. Finding the sleeping position your body is most comfortable and relaxed in can be difficult, especially if you are prone to snoring or have any injuries. 

Exercise or your diet can be a major factor on how you sleep. Studies on the effects of exercise on the body and mind have shown that it releases endorphins, which are helpful in relieving stress levels and generally leave you with a euphoric feeling. 

Diet and eating times can be vitally important because the body finds it difficult to digest food after 7pm. Also drinking or eating anything with lots of sugar or caffeine, just before you plan to go to sleep, can disrupt the body’s natural sleep stages. Therefore, it's very important to mind your sleep hygiene!

Extensive sleep studies have revealed that dreams and nightmares occur in stage 5 of the body’s sleep cycle. The length of the dream or nightmare can depend on how many sleep cycles you have competed during the night. Evidence supports that the more cycles completed, the longer a person’s dreams or nightmares will last towards the latter hours of sleep. Nightmares in particular can be detrimental to the sleep process. At times they can seem very real and can affect a person’s ability to get back into a deep sleep after one has occurred.

Illness or long term injury can wreak havoc on your sleep efficiency. The inability to find a comfortable sleeping position, due to an injury or illness, could be costing you valuable hours rest time. Different types of illnesses can affect the body’s internal temperature, causing  either sweats or chills. Some illnesses will require you to visit the bathroom frequently during the night, which upsets your sleep stages and limits the number of cycles you are able to complete.

sleep efficiencyWith the advancements in technology over the last twenty years or so, many people cannot bear to be in bed without their tech gadgets in their room anymore, such as mobile phones, laptops, iPads or televisions. These gadgets can prove to be a very big distraction when trying to get to sleep or while actually being asleep. 

Receiving social media updates, phone calls and text messages during the hours when you are supposed to be asleep will upset the body’s sleep stages, and reduce the important levels of sleep you can achieve during the night.

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