The 3 Qualities of Good Sleep: Depth, Duration, Continuity
What is a good night’s sleep? We know how it feels to wake up feeling like we are well rested and we know it is like to wake up feeling like we are not. But how do you explain the difference in how the night went while asleep which has such a big impact on your day and quality of life? There are 3 elements that define quality sleep and these differences can make the difference in how we feel when we wake up and how our day goes.
Depth: During deep sleep, our breathing rate and blood pressure decrease, and we enter what is called slow-wave sleep, when our brain waves become slow and large. This sleep phase is important for physical and emotional restoration. During deep sleep, the body releases growth hormones for healing and growth, which aid in cell repair and healthy new cell growth in tissues and organs throughout the body. It’s also during deep sleep that the immune system actually strengthens and renews itself.
Duration: Adults should sleep 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Research provides strong evidence that you may be harming your health by restricting your sleep. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis increases your risk of several adverse health outcomes. Health problems linked to insufficient sleep include:
- weight gain and obesity
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- impaired immune system
- increased risk of death
Continuity: Sleep with no interruptions from arousals or awakenings is a key ingredient to a quality night sleep. When observing and researching sleep, we see individuals waking numerous times per night. For example, apnea is when breathing is suspended for a period of time. When sleep apnea occurs, a person is awakened and experiences sleep loss. In severe cases, a patient has awakened hundreds of times during the night without obtaining quality sleep. Addressing the cause of poor sleep continuity should be a priority.