The Science of Sleep
By Brook M on June 15, 2023
Sleep is a vital component of our daily lives, yet it is often neglected or taken for granted. According to estimates, 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. have ongoing sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea. This blog will explore sleep science, why it matters, and how to improve it.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is critical in the body's ability to repair and rejuvenate itself. It can help you stay at a healthy weight and lower your risks of serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Besides, it can also reduce your stress and improve your mood, help you think more clearly, and do better in school and at work. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can cause a lot of harm to your body, like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, reduced immune system function, etc.
Various sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome, can significantly impact sleep quality and quantity. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep. It affects 10% of the world's population. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, affecting 1 in every 15 Americans. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation, and it affects up to seven to 10 percent of the U.S. population.
Factors That Affect Sleep Quality
Sleep quality can be affected by many factors, and we will see some of the most common factors that affect sleep quality.
Stress can disturb sleep because, with stress, worrisome thoughts can keep people awake at night.
Another common factor that disturbs the quality of sleep is diet. Food is a source of daily nourishment, but it can also influence sleep quality by causing discomfort. Certain foods can cause nighttime discomfort. Secondly, eating too much before bed can cause uncomfortable indigestion that keeps you up at night.
Environment is one of the greatest factors affecting sleep quality. A lousy sleep environment affects sleep quality by impairing your ability to sleep soundly through the night. The ideal sleep environment is cool, dark, and quiet. Experts recommend keeping your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, which should keep it comfortably cool. Additionally, disruptive noises can disrupt your ability to fall or stay asleep.
When we talk about sleep environment, it's inconceivable to go without talking about the killing habit that has been spread through all people–using technology and social media around bedtime! Those significantly affect sleep quality since they can make it harder to fall asleep, reduce sleep time, and leave a feeling of freshness the next day. This is why it's crucial to create a sleep-conducive environment.
How to Improve Sleep Quality
We've previously seen how our sleep could be disrupted, and now we'll see how to improve it. Here are practical tips on how we can improve our sleep quality:
- Establishing a bedtime routine: Regular sleep should help you rest better. Plan a bedtime and wake-up time that works for you, and then stick to that schedule daily.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise regularly and establish a relaxing nightly routine to manage stress, like meditation, for instance.
- Avoid electronics before bed: Using electronics can be a harmful habit. Try avoiding them, and you'll see the difference in your sleep by yourself.
- Install a sleep-tracking app: Those apps can help you spot the problem with your sleep, and based on that, you can change something in your sleep to solve it. For example, if it shows you that you're snoring, you could try to change position.
Getting enough sleep is critical for overall health and well-being. You can considerably improve your sleep by applying the pieces of advice I gave throughout this blog. By improving sleep, we can reap the many benefits of restorative and rejuvenating rest.
Thank you to Maya B for editing this article!