Getting a good night’s sleep with no interruptions can affect both mental and physical health from day to day. Sleep quality and quantity not only gives your mind and body a daily reset, but is also linked to an array of health conditions. With a clear link to mood, memory, energy levels and cognitive thinking, ensuring you’re getting enough sleep is vital when it comes to general wellbeing. Many people might consider getting their 8 hours a day as enough, but the quality of those hours is just as important as the number. Let’s take a look at the difference between sleep quality and sleep quantity and why each one plays a crucial role in everyday health.
What is sleep quality?
Your quality of sleep comes hand in hand with your quantity of sleep. 10 hours of fragmented or low-quality sleep won’t be as beneficial as 7 undisturbed hours. Sleep quality simply refers to how good your sleep was. For instance, if you’re woken up every couple of hours and are constantly tossing and turning, your quality of sleep would be considered poor, even if it was more a good length of time.
Key indicators of good quality sleep are :
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Being awake for 20 or fewer minutes after initially falling asleep
- Not waking up more than once in each night
What is sleep quantity?
Sleep quantity refers to how many hours of sleep you are getting each night. Unlike sleep quality which should always be of a good level, the hours of sleep you are getting will change throughout your lifetime. The recommened average hours of sleep required per 24 hours are as follows.
- Newborn (0-3 Months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-12 Months): 12-16 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 Years): 11-14 hours (including naps)
- Preschoolers (3-5 Years): 10-13 hours (including naps)
- School-Age Children (6-12 Years): 9-12 hours
- Teenagers (13-18 Years): 8-10 hours
- Adults (18-60 Years): 7-9 hours
- Adults (61-64 Years): 7-9 hours
- Adults (65+ Years): 7-8 hours
It’s also important to remember that with sleep quantity comes personalised needs. There are a multitude of conditions and lifestyle factors which can affect the hours of sleep obtained.
“Whilst we sleep, our bodies and minds are busy being replenished and restored. Without the right quality of sleep, you can find yourself feeling unwell and potentially at higher risk of more serious health effects. If experiencing a lack of sleep, you can also find stress harder to manage and mood swings more common. We should be spending around a third of our lives sleeping. To be the best version of yourself, prioritise sleep!”
Kerry Davies, CBTI therapist and sleep coach, https://www.thesleepfixer.com/
Sleep quality standards
Sleep Onset Latency
Sleep onset latency refers to how quickly and easily you can fall asleep. Whilst the majority of people are able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, if it’s taking you longer than this, your sleep quality could be poor.
The ability to stay asleep once you have fallen asleep. High-quality sleep is continuous and a disrupted sleep at night is associated with a poor sleep quality and potential side effects.
Sleep efficiency means how much time you spend sleeping versus how much time you spend trying to sleep.
Timing refers to the amount you sleep you get in a 24-hour period. Our circadian rhythm controls our internal clock, making us feel alert at certain times and tired at night time.
Alertness During Waking Hours
Another indicator of quality sleep is your ability to maintain wakefulness throughout the day. This includes being able to stay awake, whilst also being able to function with your full cognitive and physical ability.
Sleep satisfaction is analysed by how well-rested you feel when you initially wake up and throughout the day.
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