QUANTITY VS QUALITY: HOW TO SLEEP 8 HOURS IN 4 HOURS 

Dr. Hira Tanveer

3 min read

quality-sleep

Sleep in not only essential for mental health, but also for physical health. However, in recent times, with the rise in the use of technology, the quality of sleep has been compromised, as has the quantity. Read on to know more about how you can get the best rest in a limited time:

How much sleep is ideal for a healthy body?

The amount of sleep the body needs varies with age. When we are young, the body needs more sleep for optimal function. According to Sleep Health Foundation, new-born babies, need 12 to 18 hours a day, toddlers need about 12 to 15 hours of sleep, teenagers need 8.5 to 9.5 hours and adults need about 7 to 9 hours. However, every adult is different and some may even require less than 6 hours of sleep to function. 

Inadequate sleep results in daytime sleepiness, irritability, mood swings, short temper, low tolerance, poor attention span, sugar cravings, etc. Sleep can also result in poor health, because sleep is the time during which the body repairs its cells, restores the energy levels, and strengthens the immune system. Naturally, when someone is not getting enough sleep, it is going to take a toll on their immune system, and their health will suffer. 

Focusing on the quality of sleep

Instead of focusing on the number of hours that a body needs for sleep, one should focus on the quality of sleep. It is not necessary that the hours spent in bed result in sleep; rather, there can be disturbed sleep due to the use of cell phones in bed, late-night caffeine intake, or watching screen at night. 

High-quality sleep includes: falling asleep within thirty minutes of lying down, not waking more than once at night, sleeping at least 85 percent of the time in bed, and falling back asleep within 20 minutes of waking up. For someone who is not falling in this criterion, they are likely to get poor quality sleep and inadequate rest. 

Other signs of sleep deprivation include: needing an alarm clock to wake up, getting sleepy in meetings or lectures, urge to take a nap during the day, sleeping in on weekends, falling asleep while watching TV, feeling sluggish in the afternoon and having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. 

How to get good quality sleep?

If you observe the aforementioned signs of fatigue and sleep deprivation, you should focus on getting good quality sleep. Here are a few tips to help you there:

A regular sleep schedule can be established by making a sleep timetable and sticking to it. Try going to bed and waking up at a particular time, including the weekend. You can set your biological clock in this way, and get sufficient rest. In fact, making a regular sleep schedule will eradicate the need for an alarm clock to wake up. 

Getting regular exercise can also help you improve the symptoms of insomnia. Get thirty minutes of activity every day, but not too close to bedtime, and you will sleep soundly at night. 

Caffeine intake should not be done at least six hours before bedtime. Moreover, sugary foods, heavy meals, and drinking lots of fluid just before bedtime can also interrupt your sleep. 

Management of stress is very important for good sleep. Insomnia and sleep disorders can be a manifestation of mental disorder. Seek professional help and get treatment for stress if you are having trouble getting enough rest. 

Develop a good bedtime routine and avoid work or screen just before bedtime. Using screens and LEDs that emit blue light can disrupt the circadian rhythm and our biological clock. Therefore, screen use should be avoided before bedtime, and cellular devices should definitely not be used in beds. You can practice a relaxation technique just before bed, meditation, a warm bath or reading a book by dim light. 

Drink chamomile tea just before bedtime to get a good shut-eye. Chamomile tea has soothing properties that make it a perfect beverage for bedtime. 

A perfect snack just before bedtime is cheese and crackers because cheese is rich in protein called tryptophan that helps to make serotonin, a brain chemical that makes you feel calm and happy. Warm milk has a similar effect; such snacks, therefore, help to improve sleep. 

Setting the right environment of the room, with dim lights and quiet is also important for getting quality sleep. Excessive noise and light can disrupt sleep, and lead to inadequate rest. 

Alternative sleep cycles

If the aforementioned tips don’t work for you, you can try different sleep cycles, like the biphasic, everyman or uberman. 

In the uberman cycle, sleep is spaced out in 6 to 8 naps, and these naps last for 20 minutes each. The total sleep that one gets on this cycle is two hours. 

In the everyman cycle, there is a 3.5 hours stint of sleep, followed by three naps of 20 minutes each. Throughout the day, there is a sleep period of about 4.5 hours. 

In the biphasic sleep cycle, one sleeps for 5-6 hours uninterrupted at night, and this is followed by one nap in the middle of the day. 

If its stress causing your sleep disturbance then seek professional help. Since we are going through the coronavirus pandemic, it is important that you maintain social distance as much as possible.

Thus, instead of going out, you should book an online doctor video consultation with a psychologist for your mental health problems via oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Hira Tanveer Dr. Hira Tanveer is an MBBS doctor and currently serving at CMH Lahore. Writing is her favorite hobby as she loves to share professional advice on trendy healthcare issues, general well-being, healthy diet, and lifestyle.