The Active Times’ Hristina Byrnes recently spoke with Dr. Karl Doghramji, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on the importance of sleep, and tips on improving sleep quality.
In the article, Byrnes notes that the National Sleep Foundation recently updated its recommendations for the amount of sleep people need — usually between seven and nine hours.
But when it comes to quantity versus quality, Dr. Doghramji said, “The quality of your sleep is just as important, if not more.”
This means that sleeping less, but at a higher quality is more beneficial than longer hours in bed at a lower quality. “You can be in bed for 15 hours, but if you wake up every 20 minutes, you won’t be rested at all,” writes Byrnes. “This would be considered as less sleep than someone who laid undisturbed for six hours.”
Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, difficulty with learning and problem-solving abilities, trouble forming memories, and the risk of developing depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Doghramji provided some tips to ensure quality sleep. First, keep the same sleep schedule, including on your days off. Embrace natural light during the day time and keep your room dark at night. He explains that the body needs darkness to produce melatonin, the hormone and antioxidant secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, so no light emitting devices or TV before bed. Exercising regularly and lowering caffeine intake after lunch.
“Stretching is a good idea in general,” Dr. Doghramji adds. “Whatever relaxes the muscles is a good idea before bed.” Also, eliminating alcohol before bed and smoking; nicotine can disrupt your sleep cycle.