So much attention gets paid to how long you should sleep. Rarely, however, do we examine the importance of sleep quality. But the truth is if you’re sleeping seven hours a day, or even feel like you are but aren’t, you could be at risk for health trouble.
Quality sleep is what you want. Your body and mind need to go through various cycles a few times each night to ensure you’re getting the healing and regenerating benefits it provides.
Ideally, you’re going through four or five complete sleep cycles each night. One of the cycles you might be familiar with is rapid eye movement, or REM, cycle. It takes up to 90 minutes per cycle and is the period where you dream, and your body repairs itself from the demands of the day.
New research is showing that reductions in REM sleep can lead to an increased risk of mortality from a variety of causes, including cardiovascular disease. The study, published in JAMA Neurology, showed that even a small reduction in REM sleep could have a significant effect.
Researchers found that for each 5% reduction in REM sleep time, mortality rate went up between 13% and 17% in two age cohorts over extended periods. The study did not prove causation, only showing an association between REM sleep and mortality risk.
You can’t control REM sleep because it is entirely unconscious. What you can do, however, is be aware of the warning signs of insufficient sleep. Making sleep a priority is also helpful.
The warning signs of poor sleep include fatigue, feeling unrested upon waking, irritability, forgetfulness, brain fog, trouble concentrating, and mood swings. If you notice these signals and have a hard time explaining them, it could be due to poor sleep.
REM sleep could be interrupted by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is marked by “microawakenings” that most people don’t even realize are happening. If you feel the symptoms listed above, doing a sleep assessment is recommended.
Sleep is repeatedly shown to play a significant role in disease risk and overall mortality. It is one of the pillars of health and could play a vital role in life expectancy. Doing the best you can to get quality sleep might reduce your risk of disease.