5 Ways to Boost Your Sleep Score

How to get better quality and quantity of sleep.


Health, Wellness

(Gladskikh Tatiana / Shutterstock.com)

Ever tuned in for a rare nine-hour, luxurious snoozefest on the weekend and woken up less energized than expected? Surprisingly, it’s not only the number of hours one sleeps that’s important, it’s also the quality of sleep one gets, according to mindbodygreen. To achieve truly restorative and energizing sleep, it’s essential to focus on both sleep duration and quality.

Dr. Andrea Holliday-Bell, a sleep specialist tells mindbodygreen that, “When it comes to sleep, people are not aware that quality is more important than quantity. But, while it’s relatively easy to calculate how long one is sleeping, it’s not as simple to determine whether that sleep was effective or not.” That’s where sleep scores come in.

What is a Sleep Score?
Sleep scores can help people improve sleeping patterns as there are many strategies for boosting that score and achieving an overnight that energizes the sleeper to tackle the opportunities in the day ahead.

Sleep trackers are wearable electronic devices that give users feedback on their sleep patterns, letting them know how well they slept. These trackers can measure respiratory rate, body temperature, heart rate, and other vitals that can be used to determine how restful a sleep session was. They also attempt to break down how long the user spent in each stage of sleep, including light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. 

The trackers report back this information as a sleep score, which is an aggregate of the quality and quantity of sleep, on a scale of 0-100. Holliday-Bell shares that anything above an 80 is considered a good score, but snoozers should aim for the high-90s.

If you score consistently lower, that can be a sign of an issue falling asleep, staying asleep, or navigating the different sleep stages. Often, if this happens there are easy changes that you can make to improve their sleep score. Of course, if the issue persists, you should speak to a doctor to find the root cause of their restlessness. Here are five ways to get a better quality of sleep.

Stick to a sleep schedule
You should try  to go to bed around the same time every night and wake up at around the same time every morning. Dr. Amy Shah, a double-board-certified integrative medicine doctor, says that, “When you alter a sleep schedule [by] more than an hour difference, your body feels tired because your circadian rhythm has not been synced.” 

A circadian rhythm, Sleep.com explains, is the body’s internal master clock that synchronizes all mental and physical activity according to a 24-hour cycle.

“Humans really love to have a routine. Having your circadian rhythm all over the place forces you to go into sleep deprivation mode, and it also really confuses our brains,”  Christine Stevens, a sleep consultant, tells Sleep.com. 

On the other hand, going to sleep around the same time every night and waking up around the same time every morning keeps the circadian clock paced and regulated. 

Holliday-Bell tells mindbodygreen that waking up at the same time every day is even more important for maintaining a circadian rhythm than going to sleep at the same time, so even if one hits the sack a bit late, they should set their alarm for roughly the same time the next morning. 

Change up bedtime activities
It’s not uncommon to destress before bed by watching a movie or playing a game on a smartphone, but mindbodygreen cautions that these devices emit blue light that can reduce your body’s production of the natural sleep hormone, melatonin.

To improve your sleep score, try turning off your  phone and other devices with screens, and instead read, meditate, take a warm shower, or do another activity that promotes calmness and restfulness. 

Behavioral sleep doctor, Shelby Harris, says that, “Trying to slow down an hour before bed is helpful, but don't stress if you can't commit to that every night; even 15-30 minutes of relaxation helps.”

Prepare your sleep space
You are what you eat, and, Harris tells mindbodygreen, you are also what you sleep on. “A quality mattress and pillow can significantly impact sleep by providing support, relieving pressure, and enhancing comfort," she explains. “If overheating during sleep is a problem, look for cooling bedding materials like breathable sheets or a cooling pillow."

For optimum sleep, the bedroom should be between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, at least for older adults, stresses Healthline.

Sleep neurologist, Dr Sudha Tallavajhula, tells Healthline that temperature plays a similar role in regulating sleep as light does. “For initiation of sleep, low ambient light and temperature send signals to the body that it this time to secrete neurotransmitters that facilitate sleep,” she tells Healthline. “During sleep, we oscillate between phases where our body temperature is regulated differently.”

Tallavajhula adds that the body doesn’t self-regulate to the ambient temperature during REM sleep so if the room is too hot, the sleep may find themselves waking up at least partially to self regulate.

Optimize lighting
Lighting, along with sleep schedule and temperature plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm, according to mindbodygreen. Your mind associates certain types of light with sleep and certain types with wakefulness. 

To improve your sleep score, you can try using dim or red lights at night to help your body and mind relax and natural sunlight in the morning to acclimate to the day.

In the morning, let light in as soon as you wake up, and be sure to spend at least some time every day outside in natural light
If you wake up before the sun in the winter you can use a sun-mimicking lamp to ease yourself into wakefulness.

Use natural sleep aids
Natural substances like magnesium, GABA, and valerian root can calm your body and prepare it for sleep. Melatonin, a naturally-occuring sleep hormone, is another common supplement that people take to help themselves sleep. 

However, Dr. Ashley Jordan Ferira, mindbodygreen’s vice president of scientific affairs cautions you not to overuse melatonin. “Taking melatonin, particularly at higher doses, can be linked to undesirable desensitizing phenomena, such as nightmares, grogginess, and headaches,” she says.

By focusing on both the quality and quantity of sleep you can unlock the sleep of your dreams. With the help of technology, a consistent sleep schedule and high-quality sleep environment, among other strategies, improving sleep score is within your reach. 

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