Sleeping the right amount—and the right way—rebuilds all that muscle you spend sweaty hours tearing down in the gym.
But, where sleep is concerned, what exactly does getting it “right” even mean?
It’s been a nebulous thing to pin down: Most respected docs and governmental orgs advise adults to get between seven and nine hours a night; to do that, they recommend turning off any bright electronics screens well before hitting the sack, as well as abstaining from alcohol or caffeine anywhere near bedtime.
But now the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has come up with four helpful new sleep quality recommendations that let you more accurately judge the caliber of your shuteye.
Using data from a meta-analysis that included 10 years’ worth of sleep studies (more than 500 in all), NSF scientists looked closely at 12 possible indicators of sleep quality, including REM and naps. In the end, they determined that the four top variables for judging sleep are: quality, quantity, timing, and mindset.
One easy way to track these variables, said Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., of the NSF: Use a sleep tracker, which can provide a more nuanced look at how your slumber time measures up. “Millions of Americans are sleep-technology users" he explained. "These devices provide a glimpse into one’s sleep universe, which is otherwise [largely] unknown.” (Check out the 10 best apps to track your sleep.)
But there’s an even faster, easier way to find out how your sack-time rates: Take this quiz, based on the NSF’s new guidelines. If you can answer “yes” to these four questions, you’re almost definitely getting a good night’s sleep:
• Do you use your bed mostly for sleeping? Eight-five percent of the time you spend in bed should be dedicated to sleeping, with no more than 15% spent doing work, reading, watching TV, or any other activity that isn’t sleep—including sex. (Though if you're spending more than 15% of your time in bed getting busy, well... who are we to stop you?)
• Do you fall asleep in 30 minutes or less? Crashing within half an hour of turning in indicates you’re getting better-quality sleep. If it takes you longer than that, chances are there’s a problem.
• Do you sleep straight through the night, or wake up no more than once? You get the most restful, restorative sleep when nighttime disturbances are limited to just one a night (though none would be better, obviously). Waking up more often than that is a sign your sleep is fitful, not refreshing.
• If you wake up during the night, do you go back to sleep in no more than 20 minutes? If you’re back to snoozing 20 minutes or less after waking in the night, you’re likely getting a good night’s rest.
Got all four right? You’re a sleep champ. Missed a few (or all) of them? Then you’re definitely not getting enough good z’s (in fact, the quiz alone probably exhausted you). If that’s the case, check out the 10 best ways to get better sleep and 15 things you can do during the day to fall asleep faster at night.