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Quality or Quantity? Why Don’t You Sleep On It

Quality or Quantity? Why Don’t You Sleep On It

Imagine you had a late night last night. You wake up feeling sleep-deprived, so you decide that you’ll go to bed early tonight to catch up on your rest. You think that by getting an extra few hours of sleep, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed the next morning.

Many of us have used this line of thinking, but how often does it work? You can probably recall times where you had perhaps 5 hours of sleep, but still felt energised and productive. There are likely other times when you’ve gone to bed early, but woke up feeling as though you barely slept.

Could it be that good sleep is more complicated than reaching a magic number of hours per night? Is it the quantity or quality of your sleep that affects how you feel?

    More is better

    Many of us grow up with our parents telling us that we should get more sleep. Babies sleep an astonishing 14-17 hours every day, while teens need 8-10 hours of rest. Adults can function well on 7-9 hours. From the parental perspective, more sleep is better for growing children.

    That’s where the “more is better” mentality begins, but we have supporting evidence from our experience. Science tells us that we need to sleep to survive, and when you rest, your body can heal and recharge. You’ll feel more energized when you wake up. This thinking makes sense, but it is overly simplistic.

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    Think of it this way–your phone has a battery. No matter how long you put the phone to charge, it can’t go more than 100% It doesn’t create new ways to store energy. It just maxes out. Your body works in the same way. You need rest, but more sleep doesn’t necessarily give you an extra supply of energy.

      Sleep studies from the past used to focus on the number of hours of sleep that people need. We’ve all heard of the need to get a certain number of hours per night to keep our bodies and minds in peak condition. Government health organisations further impress upon us the need to get a certain number of hours of rest.

      Finally, studies on people with sleep deficiencies show that they have a shorter and poorer quality of life than people with adequate sleep. A sleep-deprived brain can behave like an intoxicated brain, and long-term cognitive issues can arise with continuous substandard sleep. It’s no wonder we all have the mind set that it is important to sleep as much as we can!

      Is too much a good thing?

      So if we have been told that it is important to get more rest, then is it really a good thing to sleep a lot? We’ve all woken up from a nap and felt terrible afterward. Studies have shown that sleeping too much is in actual fact, not good for you. Sleepers tend to have more issues with depression, increased pain, a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, and impaired cognitive function.[1]

      Too much sleep can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Having a day where you sleep too much throws off your sleep cycle, which eventually hurts the quality of sleep that you have. People who insist that they can make up for lost sleep on the weekends sabotage their chances of being well-rested ultimately.

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        How you sleep is more important than how much you’re sleeping

        Of course you need a reasonable number of hours of sleep to feel rested. Nobody would dispute that. Sleep quantity is just one part of the equation. How we sleep is more important than the number of hours we sleep.

        Feeling refreshed after sleep has a lot to do with your REM cycle. REM stands for “rapid eye movement,” and describes the dream phase of the sleep cycle. You generally reach the first 10-minute REM cycle about an hour and a half after you close your eyes.[2] You’ll continue to hit REM sleep every 90 to 120 minutes until it’s time to wake up.[3]

          Quality is key

          One of the ways to ensure that you’ll wake up feeling rested is to access as much REM sleep as possible. What we’re doing in the time leading up to sleep is also important. Activities that give your brain the chance to get into REM sleep as often as possible are best for you.

          New moms have a particularly tough time with this. In spite of the fact that they may be able to squeeze in about 7.2 hours of sleep over the course of the day, most new mothers have sleep patterns similar to people who suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.[4]

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          If they’re technically getting an appropriate amount of sleep for an adult, then why are they so sleepy? It’s quite simple: new  mothers don’t feel rested because they are awakened several times throughout the course of a night. This means that they don’t sleep long enough to enter REM sleep. Remember, it takes 1.5-2 hours to complete a sleep cycle, and REM comes at the end of the cycle.

          Without this chance for restorative sleep, new moms feel exhausted. Though they can try to catch up on rest, sleep patterns follow a cycle. A mom who is awakened every two hours may not get enough full cycles of sleep, if she gets any at all.

          Sleep and your health

          Two studies assessed how sleep quality and quantity affected college students’ health and well-being.[5] The studies concluded that sleep quality was a better predictor for a healthy and happy life and improved well-being than sleep quantity.[6]

          In the studies, subjects slept for an average of 7 hours per night. People who reported experiencing higher quality sleep were able to feel more satisfied with their lives, experienced less anxiety, and reduced feelings of depression, fatigue, confusion, and anger compared to people who reported high quantities of low-quality sleep.

          How sleepy you feel when you go to bed can also affect your sleep quality. The more tired you feel when it’s time for lights out, the more likely it is that you’ll have a restful night of sleep.

          Quality triumphs quantity

          The old adage is true: quality beats quantity. You’re better off with 6.5 hours of high-quality sleep than you are with 8 hours of mediocre rest.

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          This could explain why some people seem to do well on fewer hours of sleep. People who can access restorative sleep more often or can reach the REM phase more quickly will feel more rested. This isn’t something that everyone can do, though. Most of us need 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep to restore ourselves.

            You can improve your chances of having high-quality sleep

            You may not be able to will yourself into the REM phase, but you can set yourself up for sleep success. Here are a few ways to increase the quality of your sleep:

            • Take a hot bath before bed. The heat can soothe and relax sore muscles and prepare you for rest.
            • Turn of your electronic devices. Electronics emit blue light, which has been proven to disrupt sleep patterns.[7] Turn off your electronics, or at the very least, silence your notifications and turn on a blue shade to filter the blue light.
            • Drink chamomile tea to relax. Chamomile’s soothing properties make it a go-to remedy for nervousness and poor sleep.[8]
            • Snack on cheese and crackers. This is a perfect snack because it combines carbs with calcium or a protein that contains tryptophan. These combos boost levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps you feel happy and calm. Indulge about an hour before bed so that your brain has time to reap the benefit before lights out.
            • Drink warm milk. Skip the alcohol. Booze may make you drowsy, but it won’t help you reach the REM phase faster.[9]
            • Sleep in a cool room. If you get too warm, you’re likely to feel uncomfortable and wake up. A cool room sets the stage for a restful night.
            • Keep it quiet. Just because you can fall asleep while the TV is blaring doesn’t mean that you should. Ideally you’ll have little to no noise. If silence is unnerving, white noise is fine, but you avoid loud or disruptive environments if you can.[10]
            • The lights should be low. Our bodies are adapted to be awake when the sun is up and asleep when it’s dark. We sleep better in the dark. Partially close your curtains so that you can experience the benefits of being in a darkened room and wake up naturally with the sun.
            • Lay off the caffeine. A caffeine boost can feel great, but if you drink too much coffee or tea late in the day, you might have a tough time getting to sleep. Caffeine also affects the length of phases of your sleep cycle, which can prevent you from reaching or staying in the REM phase for long.[11]
            • Stick to the same sleep schedule every day. Making up for lost sleep or sleeping in on the weekends is going to make it harder to get into a good sleep rhythm.
            • Experiment with alternative sleep cycles. If the other tips on the list don’t seem to be working for you, or you have a job that prevents you from going to bed at the same time every night, you could try some different sleep cycles including:uberman, dymaxion, everyman, and biphasic. [12]

            If you try the uberman, you’ll only sleep about two hours per day. Sleep is spaced out over 6-8 naps lasting about 20 minutes each. Dymaxion isn’t for the faint of heart either. If you need to increase the amount of time that you’re awake, this cycle allows you to get by on as little as 2 hours of sleep per day. You get four 30-minute naps spaced throughout the day.

            The everyman sleep cycle is one 3.5-hour stint of sleep followed by three 20-minute naps over the course of your day. Biphasic, the least extreme of the alternative sleep cycles, involves sleeping in two segments. This pattern requires 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night and one nap in the middle of the day.

            Getting good sleep is about more than blocking off a few hours in your schedule

            Having enough sleep is important, but what is enough varies from person to person. Getting high-quality sleep is about more than setting aside 7-9 hours for rest. You can set up your environment and schedule to make the most of your sleeping hours.

            Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek/ Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Angelina Phebus

            Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

            Foods That Can Suppress Appetite And Help With Weight Loss Quality or Quantity? Why Don’t You Sleep On It What it Feels Like To Be The Child of Your Children? Pick Your Job Based On What You Love To Do, Not How Much You Have Invested In. How to Become Successful 10 Times Easier: Don’t Focus on Improving Your Faults

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            Last Updated on April 6, 2020

            How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

            How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

            What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

            To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

            All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

            There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

            With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

            What follows is a list of 13 of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these tips are essential:

            1. Think Big

              From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

              “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

              There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

              Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

              Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

              Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
              Instead be ambitious.

              2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

                From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

                “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

                This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

                Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

                If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

                Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

                Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

                Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

                3. Learn How to Balance Life

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                  From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

                  “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

                  All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

                  If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

                  However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

                  If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

                  In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

                  To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

                  4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                    From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                    “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                    There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                    Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                    His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                    He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                    Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                    Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                    If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                    5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                      From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                      “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                      This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                      It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                      If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                      Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                      6. Be a Person of Action

                        From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                        “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                        Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                        Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                        When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                        You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                        All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                        Applying this to you?

                        Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                        7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                          From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                          The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                          The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                          People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                          This is key to good leadership.

                          It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                          But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                          What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                          As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                          8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                            From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                            “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                            It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                            Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                            If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                            9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                              From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                              “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                              Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                              It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                              Keep dreaming!

                              10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                                From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                                “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                                Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                                Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                                If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                                However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                                11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                                  From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                                  “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                                  It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                                  When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                                  Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                                  If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                                  This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                                  12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                    From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                    “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                    You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                    Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                    True success comes from work.

                                    You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                    Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                    13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                      From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                      “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                      In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                      If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                      It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                      Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                      Final Thoughts

                                      What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                      Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                      More Tips for Achieve Success

                                      Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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