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Sleeping For More Than 7 Hours But Still Tired? This May Be The Reason…

After a long hard day, there is nothing that can give us more satisfaction than a cosy bed and a good night's sleep. Sleep plays a more important role in our body than just rest and rejuvenation for the coming day.

As we sleep, we go through four phases, which include three phases of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and one phase of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each of these phases plays a significant role in our physical and mental health and wellbeing. They are also cyclical, which means they occur throughout the night shifting from NREM to REM and then back to NREM. This cycle starts as soon as we fall asleep till when wake up.

As we sleep, we go through four phases, which include three phases of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and one phase of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each of these phases plays a significant role in our physical and mental health and wellbeing. They are also cyclical, which means they occur throughout the night shifting from NREM to REM and then back to NREM. This cycle starts as soon as we fall asleep till when wake up.

Sleep Quantity vs Sleep Quality

Just sleeping for seven to eight hours a night is not enough for your well-being. While sleep quantity does matter, the quality of your slumber matters too.

Sleep quantity refers to the number of hours of sleep we need to feel fully rested. Adults require a total of 7-9 hours of sleep—a fact, that most of us are fully aware of these days. However, many people often focus on clocking those hours of sleep but forget all about the quality of their sleep. This is part of the reason why despite the glorious seven hours of snooze, you don’t feel rested or fresh upon waking up.

Sleep quality is subjective and is based on how we feel physically, emotionally, and cognitively after sleep. There are a few ways to check your sleep quality:

1. Sleep latency: This is the amount of time it takes for us to fall asleep. Falling asleep after a long time or falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow is indicative of poor sleep quality. Ideally, it should take us 30 minutes to fall asleep.
2. Waking at night: This is the number of times you wake up during the night. If you wake up frequently during the night, consecutively for days or weeks, it could be an indication of poor sleep quality.
3. Wakefulness: This indicates how long you remain awake after waking up in the middle of the night. If it takes you more than 20 minutes to fall back asleep, then it could be an indication as to why you don’t feel rested when you wake up.
4. Sleep efficiency: This is a measure of how much you are sleeping. If you consider 8 hours of being in bed, but are unable to fall asleep within 30 mins, wake up in the middle of the night frequently, and are unable to fall back asleep—then this will reduce the amount of time you sleep.

You can calculate your sleep efficiency using this simple formula:

(Total minutes in bed) – (Minutes it took to fall asleep) – (Minutes awake during the night) = actual sleep time
Actual sleep time (in minutes)/total minutes in bed x 100 = sleep efficiency

A minimum of 85% is considered good sleep efficiency.

Causes And Implications Of Poor Sleep Quality

There can be many reasons why the quality of your sleep is poor. Some include:

1. Poor sleep hygiene: This includes factors like irregular bed timings, improper environment (noise, light, distractions, uncomfortable bed and temperature), using gadgets before sleep, using substances before sleep (caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes), heavy workout or meal before sleep, and so on.
2. Stress and anxiety: Both stress and anxiety make it difficult to fall asleep due to the repetitive and negative thought patterns, frequent awakening at night due to nightmares, and difficulty falling back to sleep as you again start thinking about stressful situations in life.
3. Chronic diseases: Chronic diseases can cause stress and anxiety that can result in sleep deprivation. There can be other medical conditions that can hamper continuous sleep such as respiratory issues. Older individuals may also face issues like nocturia (frequent trips to the bathroom at night).
4. Sleep disorders: Insomnia, sleep apnea, and hypersomnolence are common sleep disorders that can hamper the time you take to fall asleep, the number of times you wake up during the night, and the time taken to fall asleep after that.

Inability to sleep well during the night can cause the body to feel stiff and rigid in the morning. You may feel tired and irritable as well. This can cause problems in your relationships as well as your professional life. There can be cognitive impairments such as the inability to make proper decisions, lack of judgments, slowed thinking, and mental fog. We may face problems in performing at our jobs and even in our recreational activities. It can worsen mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, and other sleep disorders. It can also increase your chances of developing ailments such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even Alzheimer's.

How Can You Get Proper Sleep?

A few changes can go a long way when it comes to feeling properly rested after a good night’s sleep. Here are some things you can do to better the quality of sleep you’re getting:

1. The first step is to ensure a proper night routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time. It is also important to stay away from electronic devices and anything that can stress you out a few hours before sleep. Your bedroom should be comfortable in terms of bedding and temperature, and you should limit noise and light–both of which can interfere with sleep.

2. The second step is to take proper care of your health. Sleep and good health are interrelated. When you exercise and take care of your diet, you ensure good sleep. When you have good sleep your performance in exercise is better and your craving for unhealthy food reduces. It is also important to note that eating food right before we sleep should be avoided, even if what you’re eating is healthy. Meals close to bedtime make the body more focused on digestion, which hampers the process of getting a sound sleep. Exercise should also be avoided before bed as it makes you more active and alert due to the increase in adrenaline in the body. Instead, exercise in the morning as sunlight can help in adjusting your circadian rhythm which plays an important role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

3. Sleep quantity is important too. The 7 to 9 hours of sleep we need is dependent on our sleep cycles. We require a total of 4 to 6 sleep cycles which occur in about this time frame. Each stage of sleep, from NREM 1, 2, and 3 to REM are what gives us the feeling of being well rested. There is also physical restoration and improving the functioning of the immune system during this time. REM sleep is good for improving cognitive functions like learning and memory.

4. Limiting the intake of substances like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol is also necessary to get good quality sleep. When we consume substances like alcohol we may fall asleep fast but this hampers the natural cycles of sleep and can awaken us from sleep during the night which results in poor sleep quality. It is also important to stay away from stimulants such as caffeine which can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.

Resources

1. What Is Sleep Quality? - National Sleep Foundation (thensf.org)
2. Sleep Quality: How to Determine if You’re Getting Poor Sleep | Sleep Foundation
3. Sleep Cycles: What Are They & How Many Do I Need? [Tool] (careomnia.com)

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