What is Sleep Efficiency?

Having a good sleep efficiency is important.
Having a good sleep efficiency is important. Stuart O'Sullivan/Getty Images

Sleep efficiency is the ratio of total time spent asleep (total sleep time) in an evening to the total amount of time spent in bed. For example, if a man spends eight hours in bed in a given evening, but only actually sleeps for four of those hours, his sleep efficiency for that evening would be 50%.

Sleep Efficiency

If an individual spends the majority of the time that they are in bed in an evening actually asleep, than they are considered to be sleep efficient.

However, if an individual spends a lot of the total time that they are in bed not actually asleep, than that is not considered to be sleep efficient. An efficient sleep leads to feelings of energy and being well-rested, while an inefficient sleep may lead to feelings of tiredness and restlessness. In order to achieve good sleep efficiency, it is recommended that extra time should not be spent in bed, other than for sleeping.

Sleep Efficiency Rates

A sleep efficiency of 85% is considered to be normal, while a sleep efficiency anywhere above 90% is considered to be very good. A sleep efficiency of lower than 85% is considered poor, and is a sign that an individual needs to get more efficient sleep.

Ways to Improve Sleep Efficiency

There is a multitude of ways to improve sleep efficiency. The first thing to do to improve sleep efficiency is to eliminate all potential distractions when sleeping.

There should be no television on and no music playing. If you are accustomed to having the television or music on, you should work to break those habits and go to sleep in a quiet, dark, and peaceful atmosphere. All lights should be off, especially flashing, blinking, or especially bright lights. Cell phones should not be looked at in bed, as the lights of the screen can work the stimulate the brain and keep it awake.

The potential sounds of a cell phone should also be muted.

The bed should not be used for activities other than sleep. This should also help to improve sleep efficiency. Participating in activities other than sleeping in bed, just as reading a book or watching TV, trains you to associate the bed with awake-time activities. The bed should be associated with sleeping or trying to sleep only, and thus all other activities should be eliminated from the bed.

Exercise is also suggested as a method to improve sleep efficiency. Exercising during the day can work to tire out the body, and thus when the time comes for sleep at the end of the day, the body will be ready and waiting. Go out and run a few miles, and see if you don't feel exhausted and ready for sleep when the time comes.

A relaxing activity is also often recommended for right before bed. This could include taking a shower or bath, or reading a book (somewhere other than in the bed). A calm, relaxing activity can help prepare the body for sleep and improve overall sleep efficiency.

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