Quality Sleep: All You Need to Know & What to Avoid Before Bedtime

Quality Sleep: All You Need to Know & What to Avoid Before Bedtime

Photographer: Gregory Pappas | Source: Unsplash

No matter how much workload is piled up for the day, it is undeniable that quality sleep plays a crucial role in your everyday routine. Sleep usually takes one-third of your time. As you may observe and take for granted, quality sleep is as essential in life as food and water. Yes, you read it right–quality sleep. Quality sleep means getting enough sleep and at the right time.

How Important Is Quality Sleep For Your Overall Health?

You’ve probably ever wondered what happens when you don’t sleep, right? And sometimes, you convince yourself that it’s not as essential to life as meeting a deadline. But what happens you don’t get sleep? Not getting any sleep makes it impossible for you to maintain or form your brain’s channels that make creating new memories possible. Without sleep, it is harder for you to concentrate and respond faster and skews your ability to control your emotions.

William Shakespeare spared a few lines to describe the gift of sleep and the curse of insomnia:

“O sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?”
– Henry IV, Part 2

Sleep as Nature’s Soft Nurse

Even without the outburst of scientific study during his time, Shakespeare’s description of sleep as nature’s soft nurse is closer to the scientific truth than he could have imagined. Sleep, being as vital as food and water, is vital for many brain functions. It includes how your nerve cells communicate with one another. As a matter of fact, contrary to how dozed off you feel when you are asleep, your brain and body both remain strangely active during sleep. Studies have shown that sleep takes the role of a housekeeper in a sense that it clears away your toxin buildup that has accumulated while you are awake.

Sleep affects different tissues and systems in your body. It affects your brain, heart, lungs, metabolism, immune system, mood, and even disease resistance. Multiple research has shown that a chronic lack of sleep increases an individual’s risk of developing health disorders like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, high blood pressure, and even obesity.

Quality Sleep

Health Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep

After a busy day at the office or after a long day with family and friends, the thought of you going home to your bed becomes your most awaited reunion. After a good night’s sleep, you can get your body battery recharged to help you face another day with enthusiasm.

While a night’s quality sleep helps you set the right mood and energy to last the day, it does more power in your body than you can see and imagine:

Sleep improves your concentration, memory, and productivity

Sleep is associated with many parts of your brain’s functions, such as cognition, concentration, memory, productivity, and performance. When you sleep, your brain stays active. Your brain undertakes a consolidation process. Studies show that it is in this phase where your learning ability is improved by strengthening your neural connections. And these neural connections are responsible for forming and creating your memories. Hence, quality sleep is associated with enhanced memory.

One study showed that medical interns who worked over 24 hours shifts had a higher error rate of 36% than those who had more sleep before going on duty. This finding suggests that quality sleep has a critical impact on your concentration, mental capability, and overall productivity.

Sleep boosts your physical ability.

Quality sleep doesn’t just improve brain function. It is also shown to improve athletic and physical performance. It is clear that you feel more energized and in tune with your body when you feel that you’re well-rested.

One study showed that a group of college basketball players showed dramatic performance improvement when they slept longer the night before. It translated to their improved goal-scoring accuracy, reaction time, and speed.

So if you want to give your all for a big game, quality sleep may simply be what you need.

Sleep reduces the risk of getting an illness.

Having a night of quality sleep is vital to boost and sustain your energy throughout the day. However, getting enough sleep is also shown to reduce the risk of developing illnesses (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, high blood pressure, and even obesity) and enhance your immunity function. If you subscribe to the idea that “health is wealth,” quality sleep should be one of your top priorities.

Sleep boosts your Immune System.

We all know our Immune System is responsible for protecting our bodies from infection and other harmful organisms and foreign invaders. When it gets weak, we become susceptible to sickness and other infections, which takes us several days to recover fully.

Suppose you are someone who can’t afford to lose over those infections successfully invading your body. In that case, you need to arm yourself with quality sleep. Getting enough sleep keeps your immune system healthy and fully functioning. It allows your body to regain strength and restore itself throughout your sleep.

Sleep helps regulate your body weight.

Research shows that the quantity of sleep you get is associated with your appetite, body mass index, and obesity. It also shows that people who get enough sleep tend to take in fewer calories. These people are also shown to have more motivation to do regular exercise, which can reduce the risk of developing illnesses and improve overall health.

Quality Sleep

Factors that Contribute to Sleep Deprivation

Multiple studies show that sleep deprivation, although not considered a specific disease, increases your risk of developing illnesses, and leads to poor overall health conditions.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation, otherwise known as sleeplessness, is considered the condition of not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can be attributed to various factors like aging, physical, and mental illness. Generally, every adult should get 7-8 hours of sleep every day to maintain a good health condition. Getting less of these required sleeping hours can open yourself to different health complications such as drowsiness, fatigue, lack of concentration, lack of physical strength, reduced memory, and immunity function.

All these symptoms progress and develop to become serious health complications like depression, insomnia, narcolepsy, hallucination, mood swings, sleep apnea, and other types of mental and physical illness.

Conditioned Emotional Response

There are many different causes of sleep deprivation. But one of the most important and pressing to most adults is our conditioned emotional response. How does this happen? Sleep deprivation happens when you overthink about how you are not getting enough sleep or feeling anxious about the fact that you’re not still in bed at your estimated bedtime. These preconceived notions about yourself all contribute to your sleep behavior and your tendency to sleep deprivation.

Voluntary Choices

While sleep deprivation may come involuntarily for some, most people undergo this condition involuntarily by making voluntary choices. This happens when you choose to scan books, watch television, or even socialize instead of sticking with your established bedtime routine.

Certain illnesses

Experiencing certain illnesses like colds or tonsillitis often cause gagging, snoring, and wakefulness. These altogether interfere with your usual sleeping pattern. Moreover, people with sleep disorders like periodic limb movement, sleep apnea, or snoring also experience having sleep difficulties. On the other hand, certain conditions like asthma, anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric conditions also disrupt your normal sleep-wake cycle.

Taking certain medicines to treat certain diseases like ADHD and epilepsy is also found to interfere with your standard sleeping patterns, which could ultimately lead to sleep deprivation.

Stressful life-situations

Stressful life-situations such as the death of a loved one, losing a job, or sometimes moving to a new place also contribute to your acute or short-term sleep deprivation. This also happens when you lie in bed, worried and preoccupied with certain conditions which makes it difficult for your mind to relax and prepare to enter the state of sleep.

Quality Sleep

Things to Avoid before bedtime to Get Quality Sleep

Photographer: Victoria Heath | Source: Unsplash

As mentioned earlier, when you don’t get quality sleep, you’re setting yourself up for your doom. This may translate to increased error rate, inability to concentrate, decreased overall productivity.

Here’s a list of what you should avoid doing before bedtime to achieve the quality of sleep you need:


Thinking of the reports you need to accomplish the next morning can make it hard for you to relax and quiet your mind. Working close to your bedtime also aggravates this. Instead, you should establish a hard start and stop in terms of work-related deliverables to accommodate sleep. As much as possible, make it a habit to finish all work-related deliverables at your office and just relax when you arrive home. Having nothing work-related to think of is essential to quiet your mind and give it a fresh start the next day.


Stay away from your screen and other gadgets when you are in bed. Otherwise, your mind will wander away from sleep. According to Dr. Natalie Dautovich, “in the evening, power down electronics at least an hour before bed to avoid the mental and physical stimulation from these devices.”

Caffeinated beverages

If you don’t want to lie awake, staring at the ceiling all night, set the time to drink caffeinated beverages several hours before bedtime. According to studies, coffee has the effect of boosting your energy levels for an average of 5-6 hours. So if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you can schedule your caffeine intake ahead of time so you won’t encounter problems with sleeping.


If you are also sensitive to the adrenaline rush you get from exercise, try not to do a full-blown workout before bedtime. Instead, you can do it in the morning if you have time or can do it several hours before your established bedtime.


Taking in a heavy meal just before bedtime is like playing with sleep. You’re not only setting yourself up for sleeping problems but also preparing yourself for nighttime digestion problems. Moreover, according to one study, eating 2-3 hours before bedtime is positively associated with an increased risk of acid reflux.

Quality Sleep

How to Get Quality Sleep and Wake up Feeling Refreshed

Photographer: bruce mars | Source: Unsplash

If you want to show up at work feeling refreshed and ready to take on tasks head-on and with full enthusiasm, here are a few things you need to establish to get quality sleep and wake up with a smile on your face the next morning:

Commit to Sleeping Better

Developing any kind of habit starts with commitment. If you find it hard to do yourself, make yourself accountable by telling a friend or loved one about your commitment to prioritize sleep and make lifestyle changes to realize your goals. Telling another about your commitment will help you be more accountable. It will make you less likely to veer away from your goals.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

After you commit to sleeping better, establish the most realistic bedtime routine you can achieve. Establishing a bedtime routine includes plotting how many hours you plan to sleep for the night and the specific hour you consider your bedtime hour. Always aim to stick with this bedtime routine every day, even on weekends.

In deciding how long you should sleep, always consider that there is person-to-person variability. Generally, however, adults need to get at least seven hours of sleep at night.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Creating a sleep-friendly environment is just as important as establishing a sleeping schedule. As much as possible, try to keep your room completely dark while sleeping. It means that you may need to change your room layout to position your bed away from windows. You can use blackout curtains or eye masks if those options are not available.

As much as possible, try to stay away from gadgets or put them on silent mode before going to bed to avoid distractions before sleeping.

Exercise Regularly

Multiple studies suggest that maintaining a regular exercise routine 3-4 times a week can improve your sleep quality. It is usually best if you do this early in the morning. If you prefer to do it at night, please avoid doing it within two hours of your bedtime so as not to interfere with your sleep.