When it comes to sleep, quality counts almost as much as quantity, which is why the biggest improvement can be gained by improving your sleep efficiency. Your sleep efficiency is the proportion of time you spend in bed actually asleep, as opposed to trying to get to sleep or lying in bed wide awake. You should be aiming for a sleep efficiency of 85%.
This is highly effective but quite challenging to do!
How to calculate sleep efficiency?
To calculator your sleep efficiency, you will need a sleep tracker. It’s also a good idea to keep a sleep diary when calculating sleep efficiency so that you can get an average value over a certain time period (i.e. a month).
To help explain how to calculate sleep efficiency, let’s look at an example of sleep efficiency from Michael:
I try to be in bed by 11pm and get up at 7am most days of the week, including weekends. Routine is hugely important if you want to sleep well, and I value my sleep.
My sleep tracker told me that over the course of a month I was in bed for an average of 7 hours and 50 minutes a night, but I was only asleep for 6 hours and 40 minutes. The rest of the time I was trying to sleep, roaming the house or reading.
If you translate that into minutes you can calculate my sleep efficiency:
((6 × 60) + 40) / ((7 × 60) +50) = 400/470 = 85%
85% is pretty good. In fact, anything between 85% and 90% is excellent, and very few people have a sleep efficiency that is over 90%. An insomniac will probably spend around 70% of the night asleep.
You can calculate your sleep efficiency by using the calculator here.
How to improve your sleep efficiency?
One of the ways to help boost your sleep efficiency is to practice Sleep Restriction Therapy. Sleep restriction therapy is where you cut down on the amount of time you spend in bed, with the goal of increasing your sleep efficiency and sleep quality. One of the classic mistakes people who have problems sleeping make is to try and spend more time in bed. Yet for most people lying in bed, not sleeping, isn’t restful, it is very stressful. It also sets up a really bad behaviour pattern where your brain comes to associate being in bed with being awake. You can read more about Sleep Restriction Therapy here.