What is quality sleep?
On average, you’ll spend 1/3 of your life sleeping – or at least, you should be. In a 4-stage sleep cycle, quality sleep refers to stage 3 and stage 4 (Rapid Eye Movement, REM) sleep. This is the time when your bodily tissues undergo repair from the day’s wear and tear. They are also when formation of stable memories occur, freeing your brain to acquire new information during the day. These are the reasons a good night’s of sleep helps you feel energized and ready to take on the day. On the flip side, lacking enough quality sleep makes you feel ill, unable to perform, and lose control over your life. In this fast-paced and hectic world, people will inevitably face the lack of sleep due to work or exam stress.
5 tell-tale signs that indicate you lack quality sleep
1. You’re always hungry
You are always perturbed by hunger in the middle of the night while your stomach constantly growls.
“If the brain is not getting the energy it needs from sleep it will often try to get it from food,” says Chris Winter, MD, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia.
2. You doze off uncontrollably
You tend to doze off without being aware of it while listening to your teachers teach or trying to rush an assignment in the office. It’s called micro-sleep.
“The brain says, ‘I don’t care what you want to do. We are going to sleep,'” Dr. Winter says. It’s your body’s way of forcing you to get the rest you need.
3. Your skin isn’t looking good
Are you experiencing breakouts or looking frailer?
This is because a lack of sleep upsets your hormonal balance and elevates circulating estrogen levels, thus hindering the process of repairing damaged cells.
Can’t remember what you crammed the night before for the test?
When you are exhausted, you lose concentration and unable to absorb information when trying to memorize. In fact, a lack of proper sleep will impair your brain’s ability to keep the nervous system clear.
5. You get emotional
You are likely to over-react when you are required to complete the project with a tight deadline or find yourself doing or saying things you don’t necessarily mean, like lashing out at a spouse or ranting at an employee. “You become over-reactive to emotional stimuli,” says Kelly Baron, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University in Chicago.
4 harmful effects of sleep deprivation
1. Performance & Productivity
According to a research by Hult’s news, employees who are facing sleep deficit reported poorer workplace performance due to tiredness. This includes struggling to stay focused in meetings, taking longer to complete tasks, and finding it challenging to generate new ideas. Along with a lack of focus and diminished creative capacities, you will also be less motivated to learn and being less able to manage competing demand.
2. Diabetes & Obesity
A study published by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, concluded that insufficient sleep increases the risk of type 2 diabetes to nearly 3 times! Cutting down your sleep from to 4 hours from 8 hours results in an increase in blood sugar levels. In response, your body ramps up production of insulin (a hormone that regulates glucose processing) to regulate blood sugar levels. Over time, your pancreas wears out from overwork and your body loses the ability to control sugar levels.
In addition, the lack of sleep slows down your metabolism rate and increases your level of appetite, thus contributing to weight gain and obesity.
3. Lower life expectancy
You are more susceptible towards chronic illnesses and death due to less active immunity protectors called natural killer cells being produced during your sleep.
A report by Johns Hopkins sleep researcher Patrick Finan, Ph.D, asserts that inadequate sleep:
- Increases the risk of high blood pressure.
- Approximately 50% increase in probability of developing heart disease.
- 36% increase in risk for contracting colon cancer.
4. Strained relationships
The lack of sleep damages your social, emotional and psychological well-being. Chronic sleep issues have been correlated with depression, anxiety, and mental distress.
Studies have proven that you feel more emotional and mentally exhausted if you sleep four hours per night, compared to those who abide to a normal sleep schedule.
The frayed nerves, moodiness, and lack of focus associated with a sleep deficit exerts huge pressure onto your social relationships fostered in the workplace and at home. The surveys have shown an overwhelming 84% of those surveyed felt more irritable as a result of poor sleep, and well over half of the respondents reported experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety, and feelings of frustration. Additionally, feelings of withdrawal and a lack of optimism about the future were also frequently cited.
3 most common reasons you can’t fall asleep at night
Contrary to popular belief, it does not take a lot of light to affect the quality of sleep. Even diminutive light sources like street light creeping around your curtains, standby lighting from your mobile phone, the power indicator on your air-conditioner, and light from your LED alarm clock all prevent you from experiencing restorative stages 3 and 4 (REM) sleep.
Melatonin, a natural hormone that makes you fall asleep and maintain deep phases of sleep, is strongly regulated by light. It is the reason you feel awake in the day and sleepy at night. Even the tiniest amount of artificial light in your bedroom could trick your brain into believing that it is daybreak suppress melatonin levels throughout the night and make you spend less time in the restorative stage 3 and 4 (REM) sleep phases, causing you to awake feeling unrested.
Efficient sleep starts with a good sleep environment: Use blackout curtains to block out all street light, and make sure you turn off all light-emitting devices when you turn in. A cheaper, more convenient alternative will be to use an eye mask. However, most cheap models flooding the market are flimsy, don’t really block light, and too uncomfortable for sleep, so you’ll want to invest in a quality eye mask. SleepWiz’s ErgoDream™ eye mask is made of pressure-distributing viscoelastic memory foam and even has 3D eye cavities that promote REM sleep. In addition, it is designed with a dual strap that helps the ErgoDream™ stay on the entire night, and does not place pressure on your ears.
A snoring partner, a busy street, midnight void deck drinkers, thunderstorms – just like light, there are many uncontrollable sources of noise that we do not realize until we’re shaken awake at 3am in the morning by a thunderclap. Noises that disrupt your sleep shorten or even completely prevent you from entering the deep stage 3 and REM phases of sleep, causing you to wake up feeling tired.
Soundproof your room to insulate against external noises. Making a habit of wearing earplugs to bed can improve your sleep efficiency drastically, especially if you have family members who stay up late, noisy neighbours, or live by a busy road. All SleepWiz eye masks come with a free set of High-density Memory Foam Earplugs included, which mould to the shape of your ear canal and create an effective seal against noise.
3. Poor sleeping habits
Everybody has a natural circadian rhythm that determines when we feel sleepy or awake. In general, this corresponds to day and night because the circadian rhythm is regulated by melatonin levels and, hence, light levels. When you do not abide by your body’s circadian rhythm, you experience problems falling asleep and inefficient sleep. This is the reason shift workers succumb to chronic illness and disease more frequently.
If you must work night shifts, or otherwise misalign your work schedule with traditional day and night, you should shift your circadian cycle correspondingly as well. If you sleep while it’s bright, use an eye mask to simulate completely dark, nighttime conditions in order to align your circadian rhythm with your work schedule and achieve deeper, more restorative sleep.
ErgoDream™ 3D Ergonomic Eye Mask
For back sleepers
The cutting-edge ergonomics of the ErgoDream™ is designed to help you sleep more efficiently – to feel more refreshed in a shorter period of sleep. The deep eye pockets of this sleep mask allows your eyes to move during restorative REM sleep phases, while being completely impervious to light.
Pressure-eliminating memory foam and thin dual straps all ensure that you rest in comfort.
Luxiere™ 100% Silk Eye Mask
For side sleepers
An extra-wide cut makes the Luxiere™ prevents light from leaking in when you sleep on your side, and the soft, 100% silk material prevents any facial wrinkles – the perfect sleep mask for side sleepers. Making a silken fabric impenetrable to light is made possible with DreamWeave™ technology, which weaves the silk in a ultra-tight structure. The Luxiere™ eye mask stays on even if you toss and turn during the night thanks to its dual strap feature.