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How is your sleep health? How do you know?

General sleep recommendations

General recommendations exist but it’s important to know that sleep changes occur across the lifespan. Toddlers need more than teenagers and teens need more than adults. You’ve probably heard that older adults need less sleep but that is a MYTH. Several factors affect sleep quality and duration as we age but we don't need less sleep.

How much sleep does the typical adult need?

We sleep in cycles of 90 minutes on average. To reap all the benefits of sleep most people need 5 cycles, which equates to 7.5 hours of sleep on average.

How do you track it?

Unless you are going to sign up for a sleep study you have to get techy with it. There are many weareables now that track sleep (OURA, Whoop, Fitbit and Jawbone). I have been using an OURA ring for the past year and have been pleased with the feedback I’ve received.

The OURA ring links via Bluetooth to my phone app and in the morning my data is downloaded from the previous night. This includes a hypnogram display of my night’s sleep, sleep efficiency, % of time spent in each phase of sleep, average resting HR, respiratory rate, sleep and waking time.

A good night

Not so such a good night

It's a bit more complicated than this but simplified, we have 5 phases that we cycle through during sleep.

The 1st phase (N1) doesn't last very long - about 5 minutes as you fall asleep.

The 2nd phase (N2) is referred to as Light sleep and we typically spend about 50% of our time here. Light sleep serves as the transition into deep sleep and REM. We rarely go straight from deep to REM.

The 3rd phase (N3) is known as Deep Sleep (also known as SWS- slow wave sleep and NREM). This phase often gets props for body healing/restoration but it also plays a significant role in information processing. Deep sleep tends accounts for 25% of our sleep time and occurs in the first half of the night.

4th phase (N4) is REM sleep. This is when the majority of dreaming occurs. We usually spend 25% of our sleep time here and it occurs in the later stages of the n:

With the OURA ring you can geek out by going online to look at more specific trends. For example this first graph shows my sleep efficiency during Aug-Oct of 2017 and notes my average of 89%.

I’ve made some improvements and as you see below, my average sleep efficiency Jan-March was 93%.

Let’s say wearables aren’t your thing. You can get a sense of your sleep health by completing a questionnaire developed by Daniel Buysee known as the SATED.

The SATED self report questionnaire:

This is a simple tool for practitioners to use with clients/patients as well, looking at 5 dimensions of sleep health. Are you SATED?

S-atisfaction with sleep

A-lertness during waking hours


E-fficiency of sleep timing

D-uration of sleep

Check out the SATED here:

One word of caution about subjective tests like the SATED or relying on how tired you do or don't feel. Perception of sleep quality does not always match the reality.

Level Up those Zzzzzs.


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