This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Not all sleep is created equal. Learn how to evaluate the quality of your shut-eye.

It’s no surprise that the amount of sleep you get plays a role in determining your overall health. However, it’s not as simple as assuming that if you were in bed for 8 hours, your sleep is having a positive impact. The quality of that shut-eye also plays a role in a person’s wellbeing; in fact, sleep quality relates more strongly to overall health than sleep quantity. To measure your sleep quality, consider these questions related to the way you fall asleep and how often you wake up during the night. 


How Long Does It Take You to Fall Asleep?

One indicator of healthy sleep quality is how long it takes you to fall asleep. As many as 27 percent of people take longer than a half-hour to fall asleep, but drifting off in 30 minutes or less is generally an indicator of high-quality sleep. 


How Many Times Do You Wake Up?

Waking often throughout the night (perhaps due to drinking alcohol before bed or having caffeine too late in the day) disrupts your sleep cycle, leaving you tired the next day. The standard for good sleep quality is waking once during the night, if at all.


How Many Minutes Are You Awake During the Night?

The total number of minutes you’re awake after initially falling asleep is another indicator of sleep quality. Twenty minutes or less is the goal.


What Percentage of Time Spent in Bed Are You Actually Asleep?

You may spend 8 hours in bed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you slept that amount. To maximize the health benefits, aim to spend at least 85 percent of your time in bed asleep. To determine this percent, take the total amount of time you spent in bed (in minutes) and subtract the number of minutes it took to fall asleep plus the minutes you spent awake throughout the night. This equals your total sleep time. Divide sleep time by total time in bed to determine your percentage. 


If you find yourself falling short on any of these indicators, it may be time to make some adjustments to your sleep routine. Easy changes, like turning off the TV and computer an hour before bed, setting your thermostat to a cooler temperature, and making sure your room is dark can all improve your odds of catching a good night’s sleep.