When I think about being efficient at something, I imagine accomplishing it in the fastest and most effective way possible. Completing a task without wasting any time.
You can probably find ways to become more efficient at your job, with your workouts, or even when cleaning your house… But sleep? That’s a new one.
Let’s take a closer look at what sleep efficiency is and why it is important in determining just how well you sleep.
What is Sleep Efficiency?
Sleep efficiency is the ratio of total time spent asleep to the total amount of time spent in bed.
If you read that and thought, HUH?, you’re not alone. Math was never my strong subject either.
So, for my fellow non-math brains, you can think of sleep efficiency like this:
If the majority of time that you spend in bed is actually spent sleeping, then you are said to have good sleep efficiency
If you spend much of your time in bed lying awake or tossing and turning while trying to fall asleep, then you might have poor sleep efficiency.
People who sleep efficiently generally wake up feeling well-rested and energetic. People who sleep inefficiently are more likely to wake up feeling tired and lethargic or worse, oversleep.
Your sleep efficiency is also directly correlated to your sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle typically lasts 90 minutes. In Theory, an ideal night of sleep would allow you to enjoy five full sleep cycles.
Getting through five sleep cycles can become difficult when you are woken up mid-sleep cycle. When a sleep cycle is interrupted, your brain goes back to the beginning and completely starts the process over again.
Your goal should be to fall asleep quickly once you get into bed and stay asleep long enough to cycle through five full 90 minute cycles. If you can accomplish this, then you have excellent sleep efficiency.
How to Calculate Your Sleep Efficiency Score
If you wanted to learn your sleep efficiency score, simply use the calculator below:
Sleep Efficiency Calculator
But if you prefer the old fashion method, you can use a pen and paper to determine your sleep efficiency with a simple formula.
Simply divide the time you spend in bed completely asleep by the total time that you spend in bed.1
For example: You get in bed at 10pm. It takes you 30 minutes to fall asleep, and you wake up 3 times for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 5 minutes. You wake up for the day at 5am.
The Equation: (Total Time In Bed – Time to fall asleep – Time Awake)/Time Spent in Bed.
Total time in bed: 7 hours (420 minutes)
Minus time to fall asleep: 30 minutes
Minus times awakened: 20 minutes (5 minutes + 10 minutes + 5 minutes)
Total time asleep: 420 – 50 = 370 minutes
Sleep Efficiency: (Total time asleep divided by time spent in bed) 370 /420 = 88%
If you undergo a sleep study, a similar formula will be used by the doctor to work out your sleep efficiency.2
What is good sleep efficiency score?
In the world of sleep science, a sleep efficiency score of 85% and higher is considered normal. So, based on the above example, a sleep efficiency score of 88% would be considered decent.
But there is always room for improvement! While researching I did not come across any scientific cases where a perfect sleep efficiency of 100% had been recorded. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to reach it!
Why do you want to track your sleep efficiency score?
For those of you suffering from insomnia and consistently tweaking your lifestyle to see what works and what doesn’t, tracking your sleep efficiency is vital. By recording your sleep efficiency daily, you will be able to see where the changes you have made are actually improving your overall sleep.
How to Improve Your Sleep Efficiency
If your sleep efficiency falls below the normal 85% range, or you simply want to up your normal sleep efficiency score, it may be time to explore some ways to improve your sleep efficiency. It is always possible to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply throughout the entire night.
Try some (or all) of the following to boost your sleep efficiency and enjoy waking up feeling more energized and refreshed!
1. Remove distractions
Eliminate any and all possible distractions from your bedroom. Anything that might disturb your ability to fall asleep or might disturb you while sleeping should be dealt with.
This includes ensuring that no television or music is playing, all lights are turned off, and all cellular devices are silenced or off.
2. Keep the Bed for Sleeping
Do not use your bed for any activities other than sleeping, although getting intimate with your partner is acceptable.
Using the bed for anything other than sleep-related activities trains your brain to associate the bed with activities done when awake. Try to avoid texting, watching TV, or working in bed.
Exercise can help improve your sleep efficiency. When you perform exercise during the day, it works to tire your body out so that you can sleep more deeply at night.
Perform exercise earlier in the day so that it doesn’t energize you before sleep. Avoid engaging in exercise within 2 hours of bedtime.
4. Sleep When Tired
Lying in bed and struggling to fall asleep leads to feelings of frustration and anxiety. As a rule of thumb, get in bed when you are actually tired to avoid your bed becoming a source of stress.
In addition, if you cannot sleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and go do something relaxing for 15 minutes before trying to sleep again.
5. Relaxing Pre-Sleep Routine
Having a pre-sleep routine is essential for achieving good sleep efficiency. Everyone’s routine will be different but some pre-sleep activities may include taking a shower or bath, meditating, reading, or journaling.
6. Consistent Schedule
Keeping a regular sleep schedule can help you achieve a higher quality of sleep. Aim for going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
7. Use Devices
In general, the use of electronic devices is not advised before bed. But using devices in a way that helps you sleep is one trick for improving your sleep efficiency.
Sound machines, sleep tracking apps, and guided meditation are all sleep inducing ways to utilize your devices.
8. Eat for Sleep
Avoid eating heavy or rich meals too close to bedtime. Enjoy a nutritious, non-carb heavy meal several hours before bed. Eat a 150-200 calorie snack about thirty minutes before sleep to avoid going to bed hungry.
Try yogurt, berries, or hummus and vegetables. Be sure to avoid caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime.
Although our bodies naturally produce sleep-related chemicals and hormones such as magnesium and melatonin, it never hurts to supplement these. There are a variety of all-natural supplements that can be taken to help induce and improve sleep such as: magnesium, melatonin, GABA, or 5-HTP.
10. Soothing Sleep Space
The environment that you fall asleep in has a direct impact on the quality of your sleep. Make sure that your room is kept cool, dark, and quiet. Outfit your bed in sheets that are comfortable and inviting. You can even try using feng shui to create a sleep space that promotes sound slumber, if you’re into that kind of thing.
11. Light It Up
Lighting has a big impact on your sleep. Natural lighting maintains and sets your internal sleep-wake cycle. Be sure that your room is completely free of light when falling asleep and allow natural light to shine in when it is time to wake up.
If you feel lonely, it is highly likely that you suffer from poor sleep efficiency. A 2002 study confirmed that loneliness has an effect on just how well you sleep at night.3 So get out there and make some friends!
13. Read our sleep guide!
Apologies for the shameless plug, but we have written a detailed guide listingover 100 different ways to achieve better sleep. We think you will find it to be a pretty awesome resource!
14. Professional Help
Sometimes the struggle to achieve sleep cannot be rectified by simple lifestyle adjustments. Your issues with sleep may stem from an actual sleep disorder that needs prescription medication or devices. Consider seeking professional help if you consistently fight to achieve quality sleep.
15. Don’t Give Up!
You may find some of these tips and tricks to be more easily incorporated into your daily and nightly routine than others. But don’t give up! Continued and targeted efforts made to improve your sleep efficiency will pay off! Be patient and stay motivated! Improved sleep efficiency will be well worth the hard work!
What is your sleep efficiency score? Do you have any tricks to improve sleep efficiency? I would love to hear them. Let me know in the comments below!