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Understanding sleep quality and ways to improve it: A guide

  • The first step toward improving the quality of your sleep is to assess it with the help of fitness trackers and maintaining a sleep diary

One of the most effective strategies to improve the quality of your sleep is to follow a consistent sleep schedule every day
One of the most effective strategies to improve the quality of your sleep is to follow a consistent sleep schedule every day (Unsplash/Bruce Mars)

Are you always feeling groggy, struggling to focus, or constantly reaching for that extra cup of coffee? Your body might be sending you a clear signal: lack of proper rest and peaceful sleep. This is because many of us sacrifice precious hours of rest to accommodate our busy lives, not realising the profound impact it can have on our physical and mental well-being. We often forget that sleep is a vital aspect of our overall health, and getting enough of it is crucial for optimal functioning. This article discusses the importance of sleep and how to determine whether your body and brain are receiving the restorative sleep they require.

The importance of sleep
Sleep is a fundamental biological process that allows our bodies and minds to recover, repair and rejuvenate. During sleep, our brains consolidate memories, support learning, and flush out toxins accumulated during waking hours. Additionally, various hormonal and metabolic processes are regulated during sleep, affecting appetite, mood, and overall health.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a range of negative consequences, including reduced cognitive function, impaired decision-making, weakened immune system, increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, obesity, and mental health issues like anxiety. Therefore, getting adequate sleep is vital for both our short-term performance and long-term health.

Also read: An essential guide to sleeping better at night

Signs that you might not be getting enough sleep  
Recognising the signs of insufficient sleep is vital for taking steps to improve your sleep hygiene. Here are some common indicators that you might not be getting enough sleep: 

Daytime sleepiness: Feeling excessively tired and struggling to stay awake during the day, especially in sedentary situations like watching TV or reading.

Difficulty concentrating: Struggling to focus on tasks, make decisions, or retain information.

Mood changes: Experiencing irritability, mood swings, and heightened emotional responses.

Increased appetite: Craving sugary or high-calorie foods due to disrupted hunger hormones.

Weight gain: Disrupted sleep patterns can affect hormones related to hunger and satiety, leading to weight gain over time.

Impaired performance: Struggling with physical or cognitive performance in daily activities, work, or school. 

Also read: 6 easy ways to build your immunity this rainy season

How to assess if you’re getting sufficient sleep

Evaluate your sleep duration: Adults generally need 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. Track your sleep duration for a few weeks to see if you consistently meet this requirement. There are many smart watches and fitness trackers that use a combination of heart rate monitoring and actigraphy to track and measure sleep. These will not only help in monitoring your sleep patterns but will also provide detailed information on sleep duration, sleep stages, and potential disruptions.

Monitor sleep quality: Besides quantity, sleep quality is equally important. Pay attention to how easily you fall asleep, how many times you wake up during the night, and how refreshed you feel in the morning.

Listen to your body: If you often feel fatigued during the day or experience any of the signs mentioned above, it is a clear indication that you might not be getting enough sleep.

Sleep diary: Keep a record of your bedtime, wake time, and any significant events that might have affected your sleep, such as caffeine or alcohol intake, exercise, or stressful situations.

Consult a healthcare professional: If you suspect chronic sleep issues or sleep disorders, consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and personalised recommendations. 

Also read: Why getting enough sleep is crucial for your health and fitness

Improving your sleep quality
If you find that you are not getting enough sleep, there are several strategies you can adopt to improve your sleep quality:

Stick to a consistent schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekend.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Establish calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Optimise your sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark.

Choose a comfortable mattress: Selecting a comfortable mattress is essential for enhancing sleep quality. Traditional mattresses often lack adequate support and fail to relieve pressure points, leading to restless nights. However, new smartGRID mattresses with their innovative technology are specifically engineered to conform to your body’s shape, promoting proper alignment of the spine and alleviating pressure points. By choosing the right mattress, individuals can enjoy better sleep, wake up refreshed, and experience improved overall well-being

Limit screen time before bedtime: Blue light from screens can adversely affect your sleep cycle. Make an effort to refrain from using screens for at least one hour before going to bed.

Watch your diet: Limit caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, as it can negatively affect sleep quality. 

Stay active: Regular physical activity such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can contribute to better sleep, but avoid intense exercise close to bedtime. 

Adequate sleep is vital for maintaining optimal health and well-being. By recognising the signs of insufficient sleep and tracking your sleep patterns, you can determine if you are getting enough rest. If necessary, adopt healthy sleep habits to improve your sleep quality and ensure you reap the many benefits of a good night’s sleep. 

Remember, quality sleep is not a luxury but a necessity for a healthy and fulfilling life. Prioritise your sleep, and you’ll be better equipped to tackle life’s challenges with energy and clarity.

Harshil Salot is co-founder of The Sleep Company.

Also read: Do these exercises to control your blood pressure




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