We have all heard of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ). But not many have heard of Sleep Quotient (SQ), which is a measure of how well you sleep at night.
My work has given me the opportunity to meet some very interesting people and having invigorating conversations about probably the most important topic – LIFE. Most of the people are caught up in juggling various responsibilities and running. No one knows why they are running and where they are headed. Someone told them to run, and they started to run! Maybe their parents, college professors, friends, colleagues, bosses or they simply read about it somewhere that this is the only way to lead life and be successful! I am sure many of us can relate to this.
One of the most common issues which people are grappling with is – I don’t wake up fresh in the morning and how can I get good quality SLEEP?
There is more than enough data and research about ‘Sleep Quality’. The irony is that just trying to go through the various material out there on this subject can give you more sleepless nights as you won’t know how to change your habits and lifestyle, which is the primary reason for not getting good quality sleep and hence, a very low Sleep Quotient!
According to the ‘National Sleep Foundation’ of the USA, since each person is different, there is no fixed or ideal number of hours you should sleep. Someone may feel fresh after 6 hours of sleep, whereas another person may require 8 hours, or someone may not wake up fresh even after 9 hours of sleep. Unlike sleep quantity, sleep quality refers to how well you sleep. For adults, good quality sleep means that you typically fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, sleep soundly through the night and don’t wake up more than once, and even if you do, drift back to sleep within 20 minutes.
I also came across interesting research done by Dr. Michael Grandner, Director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in the USA, which explained the various stages of sleep and sleeps quality. According to Dr. Grandner, sleep can be divided into 3 stages for the sake of simplicity – Light Sleep, Deep Sleep & Rapid Eye Movement (REM).
On average, light sleep will take up about 50% – 60% of your night. Whether you get more or less light sleep isn’t really going to affect how you feel, because it’s just whatever time is left that’s not spent in deep sleep or REM.
Deep sleep, on the other hand, is likely to take up 10% – 25% of your sleep, depending upon your age. There’s no real way to get too much deep sleep. Your body has its own natural drive for it, so once you meet that, the need will dissipate and you’ll just start going into REM and light sleep. Too little of deep sleep results in the feeling of lethargy and tiredness. The two main things that can lead to less deep sleep is age, as people naturally get less as they get older, and anything that interferes with your sleep, like pain, illness, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders.
REM makes up about 20% – 25% of your nightly sleep and mostly takes place in the second half of the night. If you cut your sleep short, most of what you’re cutting out is REM. And too little REM sleep can leave you feeling groggy, loss of focus, and might lead to memory problems. That’s why it’s important to get enough rest after learning something new or before taking an exam.
NBA star LeBron James sleeps for an average of 12 hours a night and Tennis star Roger Federer has said, “If I don’t sleep for 11 – 12 hours a day, it doesn’t feel right.” Of course, their daily workout routine necessitates that much sleep for the proper recovery of their muscles as well. Good sleep is vital for optimizing cognitive performance such as reaction time and decision-making, while also enhancing motor skills and learning.
With a better understanding of sleep cycles and the importance of good quality sleep, if we ask ourselves one question – do we actually feel fresh and raring to get out of bed when the alarm on our smartphone rings in the morning? The answer would most likely be – No, we don’t wake up fresh and don’t know why! I was going to write ‘alarm clock’, but then quickly changed it to alarm on the smartphone. No one uses an Alarm Clock nowadays! Ask Gen Z. Most of them won’t have even seen one!
So what do we do about our poor sleep quality and sometimes even insomnia like situation, when we have had a stressful day, have way too much going on in our mind, and can’t get any sleep through the night! I will try to decode this subject through a phenomenon that I have researched deeply – ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION, or more commonly referred to as just ‘EMR’.
We are glued to our smartphones 24X7. Even while sleeping, the phone is right next to our head and pillow. On interviewing over 400 people between the age group of 18 – 55 years – CEO’s, Professionals, Homemakers & Students, one of the major reasons for keeping the phone on ‘Switched On’ mode and right next to them at night was so that they could hear the alarm ring and wake up! Interestingly, over 90% of them didn’t know that majority of the smartphones don’t need to be ‘Switched On’ for the alarm to ring. It will do so on ‘Switched Off’ mode or even with the ‘Mobile Data’ switched off, just in case someone wants to attend to an emergency call and keep the phone switched on.
Another interesting insight can be drawn from the Wi-Routers at our homes, which remain switched on 24X7, even when we are sleeping! Why do you need any Wi-Fi connectivity when you are sleeping? Most of us have the habit of watching our favorite shows and movies on Netflix and other video streaming platforms just before going to bed and sleeping off. The idea of getting out of bed to switch off the Wi-Fi Router, maybe in our drawing room or another room doesn’t even occur to us.
Now whether it’s our smartphone, Wi-Fi Router, Smart TV, or various other electronic gadgets in our bedrooms and homes, they all emit harmful Electromagnetic Radiation! Various studies have been done by renowned scientists all across the world to prove this. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified mobile radiations as ‘possibly carcinogenic (cancerous)’ in the year 2011.
Have you ever read the manual of your smartphone which comes in the packaging, or in-built into the ‘Settings’ section of your phone? The most probable answer is ‘No’. Let’s face it, who reads a manual! We buy a new smartphone, transfer our contacts, play around with it a bit to get familiar with the new device, and are ready to start using it! But the majority of the smartphone manuals have a section titled – “Warnings against RF Exposure”, or something similar. Did you know what RF Exposure means? It simply means ‘Exposure from Electromagnetic Radiation’! Now, here are the most mind-boggling facts given under this section:
Please read the above once again and let it sink in. Can you really implement all of the above warnings in your usage habits and lifestyle? The answer is obvious – Hell No!
Another well-known researched fact given by scientists is the impact of ‘Blue Light’ on your smartphone. The blue light emitted by your smartphone and smart TV suppresses and delays the release of ‘Melatonin’, the sleep-inducing hormone which starts to go up naturally in the evening. How many of us pick up our smartphone to surf through Whatsapp, read News, go through our Social Media timelines and posts as the last thing we do before calling it a night? ALL OF US! This is THE major reason for having bad sleep quality and suffering from insomnia.
The principle motive behind writing this article is to help you wake up to the facts which we have ignored for the sake of convenience. Waking up fresh, having an awesome and productive day, having healthy conversations with colleagues at work and with family members when you get back home, and just feeling GOOD about your life every day, is what everyone wants. This is not tough to achieve. Be more mindful of using your smartphone, TV, Wi-Fi Router, and other devices and see the difference in your sleep quality.
Use Technology Responsibly & Have a good night’s Sleep!