Most people could sleep better. Approximately 35% of adults regularly get insufficient sleep. Even among people who get enough sleep most nights, more than one-third self-report getting poor-quality sleep and one-fifth self-report failing to wake up feeling refreshed any day in the past week.
Yet most people believe that they only need five hours of sleep per day, that sleep does not need to occur at a regular time or all at once, and that “lying in bed with eyes closed is almost as good as sleeping”.
The Consequences Of Unnatural Sleep Patterns
Many adults ascribe to this mythology about sleep, despite living with the evidence that better sleep would make them happier and healthier. For example:
- The immediate outcomes of poor sleep — nonrestorative sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness — impact 29% and 19% of adults, respectively.
- More than half of working-age adults have fallen asleep at work.
- 1 in 25 driving-age adults has fallen asleep at the wheel in the last month.
- Poor sleep health may cause depression, elevated levels of job-related stress and burnout, and low life-satisfaction.
Additionally, unhealthy sleep patterns have been empirically linked to:
- A 200% increase in cardiovascular disease.
- An increased risk for developing diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension, and high blood sugar; for each hour averaged of sleep irregularity, the risk of these kinds of metabolic abnormality increase approximately 27%.
- A 12% higher risk of premature death.
Quantifying “Better Sleep”
Sleep quality can be described via four distinct metrics: sleep duration, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, and wake after sleep onset. That is, a good night’s sleep is characterized by:
- Sleeping for 7-9 hours;
- Falling asleep within 10-20 minutes of getting into bed;
- Having at least 85% efficiency (with a person actually sleeping for at least 85% of their time in bed);
- Spending no more than 10%-15% of the sleep period awake.
The Keys To Better Sleep: An Ideal Sleep Environment & Mindset
Much of the current body of research on sleep disruption focuses on non-pharmacological interventions for practicing better sleep hygiene. That is, environmental and behavioral changes people can implement at home that have a meaningful, natural impact on sleep quality. These include:
1. Sleep better by turning off electronics, but consider leaving the TV on
Though 90% of adults report using an electronic device within an hour of going to bed, research shows that the blue light emitted by smartphone screens, tablets, laptops, and other devices can disrupt the body’s natural production and uptake of melatonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for sleep). Nevertheless, leaving the television on low does not present the same problems, and may help distract and calm an overactive mind.
2. Make a to-do list for tomorrow
Writing down notes for the following morning can help relieve stress over needing to remember overnight.
3. Turn down the lights
Dim or red-hued light can help the body slip into its natural sleep rhythm more easily.
4. Listen to soothing music or a noise machine
If leaving the television on low is not an available option, some people may benefit from listening to music, white-noise, or a non-stimulating podcast.
5. Lower the temperature for better sleep latency
Keeping the ambient temperature at or near 65°F (18.3°C) can help people stay asleep longer and wake fewer times during the night.
6. Do light exercise or yoga before bed
Low-intensity physical activity has been empirically linked to measurable improvements in sleep quality.
7. Brew some herbal tea
Certain herbal tea components, including chamomile, may help improve sleep. More specifically, these natural remedies may yield better sleep efficiency and latency for some people as a result of their natural sedative and analgesic properties.
8. Meditate or practice breathing exercises
Meditation and breathing exercises both aim to cause relaxation by slowing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and improving blood oxygen levels in the body.
9. Try acupressure to sleep better, longer
The empirical support for practicing acupressure to improve sleep is mixed, though many individual people report feeling more relaxed, falling asleep faster, and waking up feeling more refreshed after using acupressure.
10. Take a better sleep supplement
Some commonly-used sleep supplements, like OTC melatonin, have little empirical support for their use. Rather, people interested in using natural supplements for sleep should consider better sleep therapies with more-proven results.
Better Sleep Starts With Better Intentions
In addition to environmental factors, getting to sleep better is largely a result of improving sleep hygiene via cognitive adjustment. Consequently, the most effective practice for getting better sleep — which has been proven to improve all four elements of sleep quality — involves keeping a sleep diary to record what works best for you.
What’s more, consulting a medical professional about your sleep habits, hygiene, and concerns can help pinpoint the natural interventions most likely to prove both safe and effective for your situation.
Can Kratom Help Improve Sleep Quality?
According to Kratom Society, kratom, in low doses, can offer relaxation and analgesia, making its potential use as a better sleep supplement both measurable and well-suited for use with many sleep disorders. However, more research is required as Kratom is currently not indicated for consumption and is still a relatively new form of natural health supplement.
Always consult a health practitioner before adding new supplements to your health regimen.