Sleep quality has been a hot topic as of late. The more and more you pay attention to the media, the more you will see recommendations to help improve your sleep. Many of these tactics probably work to varying degrees. After all, we’re all different.
Although there are so many different strategies you can use to improve your sleep quality, there is one in particular that is the easiest to implement. And, even better, it doesn’t cost you a thing (it will actually save you money). But, before we get to that, let’s look at the difference between sleep quality and quantity. Because understanding the difference is going to be imperative as we move forward.
As I mentioned above, what I want to talk about today will help you improve your sleep quality. I say this specifically because there is a difference between having better sleep and having more sleep.
On the surface, this makes intuitive sense. If you sleep better for the same amount of time VS sleeping crappy for a longer period of time, it stands to reason that you would rather want to sleep better than sleep more (at least in my head since I’m trying to maximize every minute of every day).
But, what if we look at this a little deeper. How does sleeping more compare to sleeping better when it comes to the impact it has on your body? That’s a great question. And any time I have a question, I look to research for the answer. Because (as long as the study was done effectively, which is a big IF) it’s harder to argue with science.
A recent analysis of 10 studies showed the relative risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Relative risk was determined by studying over 100,000 people (high number are typically good instudies) starting at a certain age and following up with them at least 4 years later. There were a couple of interesting findings.
First, the study found that you were less likely to develop diabetes if you got less than 6 hours of sleep on average than if you got more than 9 hours of sleep on average. So sleeping more than 9 hours on average is more detrimental to your body than sleeping less than 6 hours on average.
Second, sleeping less than 6 hours on average was the least impacted of the studied groups. The highest impacted group? Those who reported the highest difficulty of maintaining sleep.
Okay, so that’s one study. What’s the big deal, right? One study doesn’t prove anything. Well, maybe. So if you need more convincing, let’s look at another study. And one that’s not so specific to one disease.
A study done in 1997 followed college students around for 7 days (okay, they didn’t follow them, cause that might be a creepy). During that time researchers measured the average amount of sleep, sleep quality, as well as a host of other measurements such as depression, anxiety, hunger, anger, fatigue and life satisfaction.
The study showed that, among those students who slept on average 7 hours a night, sleep quality had a bigger impact on things like depression, anxiety, hunger, anger, fatigue and life satisfaction, than did sleep quantity. In other words, the fact that they slept for 7 hours (an average recommended amount of sleep) wasn’t enough. If they slept 7 hours, but slept awful, then they were more likely to be cranky and angry. On the other hand, if they slept 7 hours and slept great, they were more likely to be happy and charming.
Now that I have you convinced that sleep quality is more important than sleep quantity, let’s get back to the whole reason we’re here in the first place. And, in order for you to understand the easiest way to improve your sleep quality, we’re going to look at…you guessed it…a study!
Last year (yes, this study is that new) researchers did a study on 959 school teachers to see what effect television had on their sleeping patterns. Now, I know what you’re thinking…” of course he’s going to tell me to not watch TV before I go to bed”. And you would be mostly wrong if you thought that (I would always recommend not watching TV before bed. That’s just not what I’m going to say HERE).
The study found that teachers who watched on average 120 minutes of television or higher had significantly less quality sleep (and of getting fired, because when in the world do you have time to grade tests and homework if you’re watching more than 2 hours of TV?!?!) than did those who watched up to 60 minutes of TV.
So, the good news is, if you watch greater than 2 hours of TV (whether you’re a school teacher or not) and you want to improve your sleep quality, simply cut your 2 hours down to one hour. If you REALLY want to improve your sleep quality, shut down that one hour of TV watching at least one hour before you go to bed.
See, I told you I was going to save you money by the end of this article. All you simply have to do is cut back on your screen time and your quality of sleep will start to rise. Don’t underestimate the importance of this little insight. Quality sleep will go a long way in keeping you at your peak health (as we observed in the previous section. And one of your goals in life should be to be the best version of yourself that you can be!
If you’re not involved with something that is improving your life and are ready to make a change in your health and vitality, start by setting up your Vitality Strategy Session! Our Pack is here to support you on your journey.