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You’re Definitely an Inefficient Sleeper. Here’s How to Fix It

You’re not alone, though. Most adults can’t get sleep right.
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Do you know your sleep efficiency? Most of us don’t. Which is scary because nearly all of us are inefficient sleepers. We toss and turn and chalk a bad night’s sleep up to whatever excuse we can find.

A study from Scientific Reports shows that busy Americans aged 40 to 50 spent the least time asleep out of all age demographics. The study followed more than 11,000 people ages 6-years and up and was the first time that 24-hour accelerometer data (tracking movements throughout the day and night) was available in a national sample. While findings showed a decline in the forties, the good news is it tracks back up by 50.

However, sleep efficiency does not—at least not yet.

What is Sleep Efficiency?

Sleep efficiency is the percentage of time spent while fully asleep in bed. This is measured by dividing the amount of time actually spent asleep and the total amount of time in bed. The general consensus is anything above 85 percent is a good score (a B, not bad).

Poor sleep efficiency can result from a number of factors including stress levels, age, and environment. Even loneliness can affect your sleep quality and as researchers found at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, those who slept with a partner slept better than those who laid alone (1).

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Improving Sleep Efficiency

All hope is not lost. Improving sleep efficiency is feasible, with a little work. Want to set yourself up for better sleep (and who doesn’t love sleep)? Try these tips:

  1. Put down the phone: While laying in bed and scrolling is tempting, put down the phone at least an hour before bed (and yes, we know that’s not easy).
  2. Be mindful of what you eat and drink: Consider consuming sleep promoting foods and drinks and keep it light. A full stomach can decrease your sleep quality.
  3. Make sleep a priority: Get a good routine down and stick with it. You don’t have to stumble into bed half asleep every night. Make it your time to relax.

1. American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2022). Adults sleep better together than they do alone.

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