The importance of sleep health cannot be overstated.
Sleep affects various aspects of our lives, including our mood, our mind, and our overall health and wellbeing. However, many people are either dissatisfied with their sleep and/or are sleep deficient.
A global survey in young adults shows that Asians tend to go to bed later than Americans, obtain less sleep than Europeans and report higher rates of daytime sleepiness than other regions.1 Also, a case-control study conducted on adults in Japan shows the relationship between frequent lack of sleep and short time sleep with increased risk of acute myocardial infarction.2 Getting enough sleep is crucial for our bodies to recover, recharge and rest from our busy schedules.
There is more to sleep than the quantity, or the number of hours you get. Sleep quality is equally, if not more important. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society defines healthy sleep as “adequate duration, good quality, appropriate timing and regularity, and the absence of sleep disturbance or disorders”.3
In fact, recent research suggests that sleep quality is the strongest predictor of a person’s quality of life (QoL), including subjective health, happiness, life satisfaction and well-being, over time, compared with sleep duration and social jetlag.4
Typically, a person goes through four to six sleep cycles through the night, the first of which is the shortest, from 70 to 100 minutes, while later cycles range from 90 to 120 minutes. How much time spent in each sleep stage also changes throughout the night. The four sleep stages include one for rapid eye movement (REM) and three that are non-REM (NREM) sleep, each based on distinct patterns of brain activity.5-6
REM sleep makes up about 25% of total sleep, during which brain activity picks up to levels close to when you are awake. Except for the eyes and breathing muscles, the rest of the body’s muscles go into a state of temporary paralysis. REM sleep is essential to cognitive function, such as memory, learning and creativity. Although dreams may occur in any sleep stage, they are most common and intense during the REM stage. REM sleep gets longer as the night goes on and only starts 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first REM stage may only last a few minutes and later in the night can last as long as an hour.
Despite the importance of sleep health, many people do not have good sleep hygiene, a term that describes habits and practices that help individuals get a good night’s sleep and consequently, improve sleep health.
How to evaluate and improve sleep quality
Investing in sleep hygiene and sleep health provides benefits that go beyond an individual’s sleep experience and QoL, but has benefits for relationships, productivity, safety and public health.
To assess the quality of your rest time, consider asking yourself five basic questions:7
1. How long does it take for you to fall asleep?
2. How long do you typically sleep in bed?
3. How often do you wake up during sleep, and for how long?
4. How would you rate your sleep quality?
5. To what extent has poor sleep affected your concentration, productivity or ability to stay awake?
Your daily activities and routines, especially before bedtime, can have a major impact on your sleep. To get the restorative sleep your body and mind needs, it is important to make sleep a priority and follow good routines.
A healthy bedtime routine can be implemented by introducing certain practises such as, taking a holistic approach with a consistent schedule, maintaining a relaxing night-time routine, optimizing your bedroom environment, limiting exposure to bright light in the evening and turning off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. In addition to this, during the daytime it is important to be active and enjoy the outdoors (especially sunlight), eat a healthy diet and not eat too late at night.8
A great nutritional option to support sleep health is DailyZz™ by Kemin. DailyZz™ is a unique offering compared to current sleep solutions for formulators to add to their sleep products to help promote better sleep health and to support consumers who are looking to make a lifestyle shift towards better sleep hygiene.
This proprietary blend of spearmint and green tea extracts, standardized to polyphenols, has been shown in a clinical study to improve quality sleep and the subsequent benefits of improved focus and concentration, decision-making, reaction time and working memory the next day.9
For more information visit DailyZz.com.
1. Gradisar, M.; Gardner, G.; Dohnt, H. (2011). Recent worldwide sleep patterns and problems during adolescence: A review and meta-analysis of age, region, and sleep. Sleep Medicine. Volume 12, Issue 2, 110-118, ISSN 1389-9457.
2. Liu, Y.; Tanaka, H. (2002). Overtime work, insufficient sleep, and risk of non-fatal acute myocardial infarction in Japanese men. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 59: 447-451.
3. Watson, N. F.; Badr, M. S.; Belenky, G. et al. (2015). Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: A joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Sleep. 38(6), 843–844.
4. Kudrnáčová, M.; Kudrnáč, A. (2023). Better sleep, better Life? Testing the role of sleep on quality of life. PLOS ONE.
5. Patel, A. K.; Reddy, V.; Araujo, J. F. (2020). Physiology, Sleep Stages. Stat Pearls Publishing.
6. National Sleep Foundation. How Sleep Works.
7. Adapted from NHS UK Sleep self-assessment.
8. Hershner, S. & Shaikh, I. Healthy Sleep Habits. (2020). AASM Sleep Education.
9. Tubbs, A.S.; Kennedy, K.E.R.; Alfonso-Miller, P. (2021). A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of a Polyphenol Botanical Blend on Sleep and Daytime Functioning. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 18, 3044.