Why sleep quality, duration and consistency matter


Why sleep quality, duration and consistency matter

“Sleep is important!”

How many times have we heard this from our parents, doctors, and even teachers? We’re all aware that we should be getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours each night and that the benefits of sleep are endless, but we still have those days when we wake up feeling tired and groggy after a bad night of sleep.

So, why is sleep so important? And what changes can we make to sleep better?

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is important for many reasons, from improved physical health to enhanced memory. However, it is vital to consider the type of sleep we are getting when discussing the benefits. Focusing on how we sleep and improving this will allow us to avoid making sleep mistakes and feel the positive effects of a good night’s sleep.

Research shows that a better quality, longer duration, and greater consistency of sleep had strong associations with better grades - a very important finding for students. To discuss the importance of how we sleep, let’s have a look at the three categories separately...

Quality of Sleep

Good-quality sleep typically means that you fall asleep within 30 minutes of your head hitting the pillow and sleep soundly throughout the night. Waking up once during the night will not affect your sleep quality, however more awakenings are characteristic of a bad sleep. This also includes having trouble falling asleep and restlessness during the night.

Improving Your Quality of Sleep

To get better quality sleep you may need to make some changes to your lifestyle. Avoid caffeine for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime and try and introduce some more exercise into your daily routine. Evidence has found that those who drank coffee up to 6 hours before bed experienced a significantly worse quality of

Duration

The NHS recommends that the average person should get 8 hours of sleep a night. However, this can vary depending on the person. At 5 years old, children should be sleeping for 11 hours each night and as they get older this number decreases. The suggested guideline for a 15-year-old is 9 hours of sleep however most teenagers get far less than this, or aren’t even aware of the number.

Getting Enough Sleep

Duration of sleep can be a difficult thing to manage as events and activities may force you to sleep less. If you know you have to wake up early the next day, put away all distractions (such as your phone) and get to sleep earlier than usual. Also, don’t take long daytime naps, as enticing as they may seem. Research suggests that daytime napping can confuse your body clock and lead to difficulties sleeping at night.

Consistency

One night of 8-hour good quality sleep is going to feel good the next day, but the effects will not last long. This needs to occur on a consistent basis for you to truly feel the benefits and improvements to your physical and mental health.

Maintaining Your Sleep Quality

Sticking to a sleep schedule can help you sleep well more consistently. Try and implement the same bedtime routine throughout the week, and even on weekends. Your body clock will adjust and soon you will fall asleep easily and wake up feeling well rested. Research shows that an irregular bedtime schedule is significantly associated with a decrease in average sleep time per day. 

Final thoughts

How much sleep we get, how good of a sleep we get, and how consistently well we sleep, are all very important aspects that contribute to our well-being. We should all try to implement these strategies into our daily routines as the average person is getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night.

If you want to know more, check out our blog and learn how to sleep your way to success.

 

We have put together free resource six-packs to help support you during lockdown. There is something for everyone: teachers, parents and students. Download them for free here.

We also recommend our free printable goal setting worksheets. They will help students develop and maintain a good routine to promote their learning and well-being during lockdown.

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