Factors to Consider for Optimum Zzzzzzs

June 23, 2021

Carrie yamamotoPulmonary Medicine practitioner Carrie Yamamoto, MSN, RN, ACNP, CCRN, from Northern Nevada Medical Group, talks about the importance of getting enough quality sleep.

As a mom to two busy boys under age 4, I know that poor sleep can affect my ability to stay focused and be productive. Getting adequate and quality sleep supports one’s mental and physical health, and better sleep = happier you.

The National Sleep Foundation poll revealed Americans feel sleepy on average three times a week and 62 percent try to “shake it off” rather than learn more about their sleep habits. As we balance life and potentially lose sleep, most of us are avoiding solutions that can be life-changing. Think of it this way – if you are sleep-deficient, your ability to think, react, work and learn may negatively affect your relationships with others, including yourself. Sleep experts encourage seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Some adults need more or less; however, we all must create a goal of being productive during the day and not requiring naps. If you often feel sleepy and efforts to increase your nighttime sleep do not help, it is best to see a sleep specialist.

What’s Affecting Your Sleep?

Many factors can have an impact on sleep, including not getting enough sleep, sleeping at the wrong times, frequent disturbances while sleeping, not having a consistent schedule, and lying in bed if not actually sleeping. Another consideration is a common medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea. This sleep disorder occurs when your airway relaxes and closes multiple times within one hour. During this time, your oxygen drops, which makes your heart work harder and faster to compensate. If left untreated, it has been linked to chronic medical conditions such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, chronic lung disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and potentially an irregular heart rhythm.

Measuring Sleep Quality

Restful nights matter more than hours. You may feel you are getting enough sleep in terms of hours on the clock, but if you wake up and are not refreshed or restored, the quality of your sleep may not be ideal. Consider these factors, supported by the National Sleep Foundation, when evaluating the quality of your sleep.

  • How long does it take you to fall asleep? If less than 30 minutes, your sleep quality is good.
  • How often do you wake up at night? This refers to brief moments of waking up but not being fully awake. Those who wake up once or not at all, experience restful, quality sleep.
  • How often are you fully awake at night? If you are awake for 20 minutes or less, your sleep patterns will not be disrupted. For those who find themselves fully alert and awake for more than 20 minutes, they are often tired the next morning.
  • How much time do you spend sleeping? If you sleep for 85 percent or more of the seven to nine hours you're in bed, you are getting plenty of quality sleep.

Still Sleepy?

Oftentimes individuals who are tired each morning attribute sleepiness to not getting enough sleep, so they begin napping during the day. A rare nap every so often is OK, but if you require a daily nap or one multiple times a week, you should investigate more with your medical provider. If you lack quality sleep at night, adjust your schedule to accommodate for the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep and consider the 10 Tips for Creating a Calming Bedtime Routine

If you or a family member is concerned about sleep patterns or feeling overly tired during the day, it is best to discuss with your provider. Some can improve sleep by establishing a new routine. Others may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. If you are experiencing mood changes, headaches in the morning that go away, feeling tired during the day, taking a nap or wanting to take a nap when given the opportunity, trouble staying asleep or trouble falling asleep at night, frequent awakenings to use the bathroom, snoring, gasping and restless legs, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is treatable through a variety of options. Contact a sleep specialist to discuss in further detail what could be causing your sleep patterns to be harmful. 

New and experienced parents, and even multifamily households have unique sleep habits. It is all about finding simple ways to prioritize your sleep quality so you wake up restored and ready for the day. If you still find yourself waking up often or restless during sleep, contact a sleep specialist to discuss in further detail what could be causing your sleep patterns to be harmful.