How To Determine Poor Sleep Quality?
Signs Your Sleep Quality Needs to Improve
If you think you’re getting poor sleep, consider whether you possess any of these tell-tale signs:
- You take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep after you get into bed.
- You regularly wake up more than once per night.
- You lie awake for more than 20 minutes when you wake up in the middle of the night.
- You spend less than 85 percent4 of your time in bed asleep.
- You feel tired5 and have difficulty concentrating during the day. You may be drinking more caffeine to stay alert.
- Your skin is breaking out6 and your eyes7 are puffy, red, or developing dark circles or bags.
- You feel hungry more often, especially for junk food, and gaining weight8.
- You feel more stressed out9, emotionally exhausted, and angrier than usual.
- You’ve been diagnosed with insomnia.
Sleep quality is different from sleep quantity. Sleep quantity measures how much sleep you get each night, while sleep quality measures how well you sleep.
Measuring sleep quantity is simple, as it’s quick to determine if you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep per night (usually defined as 7-9 hours for adults). Measuring sleep quality is a little more of an art than a science. Generally, good sleep quality is defined by the following characteristics:
- You fall asleep soon after getting into bed, within 30 minutes or less.
- You typically sleep straight through the night, waking up no more than once per night.
- You’re able to sleep the recommended amount of hours for your age group.
- You fall back asleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up.
- You feel rested, restored, and energized upon waking up in the morning.
Any number of things could be contributing to your poor sleep quality. Some potential causes include poor sleep hygiene, stress, sleep apnea, or another chronic health condition or sleep disorder.
Poor Sleep Habits
Poor sleep habits, like having an irregular sleep schedule or consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, can interfere with your sleep quality. In a study of nursing students, smoking and daily coffee consumption were two of the largest factors associated with poor sleep quality. Alcohol also disturbs your sleep, even though it’s considered a sedative.
Stress and Anxiety
Poor mental health, whether from increased stress or a depression or anxiety disorder, also contributes to poor sleep quality. Problematically, sleep deprivation and the resulting insomnia worsen these conditions, creating a vicious cycle.
Chronic Health Conditions
Certain chronic health conditions are associated with poor sleep patterns and less sleep overall. These include chronic lung diseases, asthma, acid reflux, renal disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. Unfortunately, as with stress and anxiety, poor sleep quality can exacerbate the symptoms and discomfort felt with these conditions.
A person with sleep apnea experiences temporary lapses in breathing during their sleep, resulting in gasping, choking, and snoring sounds. Even if they don’t consciously wake up, their brain has to kick start breathing again, disrupting sleep quality. Sleepiness and lack of energy are two of the most common complaints of individuals with sleep apnea.
Undiagnosed Sleep Disorder
Because they occur in your sleep, some sleep disorders go undiagnosed until a person seeks care for other symptoms like poor sleep quality, or a sleep partner alerts them to the symptoms. For example, individuals with periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) experience involuntary jerking movements in their legs while they sleep, resulting in reduced sleep quality, and fatigue and poor concentration during the day. Individuals with narcolepsy likewise often suffer from poor sleep quality, and experience daytime fatigue.