July 07, 2021 5 min read

Everyone knows sleep is important for maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing, but getting a good night’s sleep is often easier said than done. If you’ve been struggling to catch zzz’s we’re here to help.

Here, we’re showing you how to improve sleep quality by identifying the signs of poor sleep and suggesting some tips to help you improve your snooze. Read on for our full explainer or use the links below to skip to the section you’re most interested in.

What is Sleep Quality?

Sleep quality describes how well you sleep, which can mean different things to different people. It could be based on how rested you feel throughout the day, how many hours you usually sleep, or how often you wake up throughout the night.

In order for your body and mind to function at their best, it’s essential to get the appropriate amount of sleep each night. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, but the ideal amount of sleep varies by age, as seen below.

  • Newborns: 14 to 17 hours a day
  • 12 months: About 10 hours at night, plus 4 hours of naps
  • 2 years : About 11 to 12 hours at night, plus a 1- to 2-hour afternoon nap
  • 3 to 5 years old: 10 to 13 hours
  • 6 to 13 years old: 9 to 11 hours
  • 14 to 17 years old: 8 to 10 hours
  • Adults: 7 to 9 hours

In addition to age, pregnancy, sleep deprivation, and sleep quality can all impact the number of hours of sleep your body needs.

How much sleep do you need infographic

Signs You’re Getting Poor Sleep

For many, the importance of sleep is clear—your body and mind perform better when you’re well rested than when you’re not. However, poor sleep quality isn’t always obvious to the sleeper. Let’s take a closer look at some of the telltale signs that you may be getting poor sleep:

  • You struggle to fall asleep and regularly take 30+ minutes to get to sleep
  • You stay awake for 20+ minutes after waking up in the middle of the night
  • You often wake up throughout the night
  • You feel unrested and tired during the day
  • You have trouble concentrating and rely on caffeine to keep you alert during the day
  • Your eyes appear puffy and red
  • You’re more hungry than usual and may be gaining weight
  • You are experiencing higher stress levels or may be feeling short tempered
  • Your doctor has diagnosed you with insomnia

If you recognize one of more of these symptoms, your sleep quality may not be as good as it should be. Now that you’re familiar with the signs and side effects of poor sleep, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you’re not getting adequate sleep.

Poor quality of sleep image

Reasons for Poor Sleep Quality

Your body relies on sleep to restore muscles, maintain its immune system, and retain information. While it is biologically positioned to sleep, there are factors that may prevent your body from getting the rest that it should. Below are some common reasons for poor sleep quality.

Bad sleeping habits

Bad sleeping habits

Many of us naturally tire throughout the day, but this isn’t always enough to fall asleep or stay asleep. Oftentimes, this struggle to sleep actually derives from things you do during the day and as you prepare yourself for bedtime.

Some examples of poor sleeping habits include:

  • Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, especially late in the day
  • Smoking
  • Using blue light devices before bedtime
  • Not following a bedtime routine
  • Exercising too late in the day
  • Using your bedroom for things other than sleep and sex
  • Sleeping in an uncomfortable environment—read our blog post on how to sleep comfortably for more tips!

Stress

Stress from work, relationships, money, or other issues can also be a source of poor sleep. In fact, sleep deprivation is exacerbated by poor mental wellbeing, whether as a result of increased stress, depression, anxiety. Sleep deficiency and the resultant insomnia, on the other hand, continue to worsen these conditions,  establishing a frustrating cycle.

Health conditions

Health conditions

Bad sleep habits and overall sleep deprivation are also linked to a number of chronic health conditions, including:

  • Lung disorders
  • Asthma
  • Acid reflux
  • Kidney failure
  • Cancer
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic pain

As is the case with stress and anxiety, these health conditions may also worsen as a result of poor sleep quality.

Sleep problems or disorders

Sleep problems or disorders

Sleep-specific issues like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and periodic limb movement disorder directly affect sleep quality. When these issues persist without treatment, they can continue to negatively impact sleep, and in turn, affect the cognitive and physical functions that depend on quality sleep.

How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

If any of the above has resonated with your relationship with sleep, you’re probably wondering how to increase sleep quality. Fortunately, there are many ways you can enhance sleep quality by rethinking your bedtime routine, reducing stress, and addressing underlying issues. Let’s take a look.       

Adopt better sleep habits

In order to avoid bad sleep habits and improve sleep quality, you’ll need to correct negative habits and adopt more positive sleep practices such as:

  • Establishing a bedtime routine
  • Improving your sleep environment
  • Avoiding stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine, as well as depressants such as alcohol
  • Not eating before bedtime
  • Getting at least 15-30 minutes of sunlight outside each day to reset your circadian rhythm
  • Reducing light exposure as the day progresses
  • Limiting tech usage before bedtime
  • Creating an environment that’s conducive to sleep:
    • Dark
    • Quiet
    • Comfortable

Minimize stress

Minimize stress

As we mentioned, stress can negatively impact the quality of your sleep, which can in turn, exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety. Managing and minimizing your stress can be an effective way to improve your sleep quality and your overall health.

The American Psychological Association’s Stress Tip Sheet offers the following suggestions for stress management:

  • Identify the sources of your stress and try to find solutions to reduce or eliminate stressors
  • Learn your stress signals
  • Use healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation, counseling, etc.
  • Practice self care by prioritizing sleep, exercise, a healthy diet, and taking breaks
  • Seek support from friends, family, and medical professionals

Identify and address sleep issues

Identify and address sleep issues

If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, it may be time to reach out to your primary care doctor. Discussing your symptoms with a physician may uncover a sleep-related or other medical issue. Once you’ve identified the underlying cause, you and your doctor can work together to build an effective plan for treatment.

Meet MedCline

If physical discomfort is negatively impacting the quality of your sleep, find out if MedCline is a good fit for you. Our Reflux Relief System and Shoulder Relief System are designed to help you get a better night’s sleep while helping alleviate symptoms in the long-term.

  • Reflux Relief System: The MedCline Reflux Relief System provides relief to those who suffer from painful acid reflux at night. This patented, clinically-proven system is the only product on the market today that combines the doctor-recommended inclined, left-side sleeping position with a simple solution for safe, natural acid reflux symptom relief.
  • Shoulder Relief System: The MedCline Shoulder Relief System is a shoulder relief pillow that was created specifically for people who have chronic shoulder pain at night. Dropping your down arm into a proprietary arm pocket creates a neutral position that allows your shoulder to rest comfortably while you sleep on your side.

Good quality of sleep

Takeaways

Making sure you get enough hours of sleep is important to your overall health and wellbeing, but the quality of your sleep is just as significant. Use this post to help you identify poor sleep quality and consider the suggestions above to get a better night’s sleep tonight!



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