Why quality is more important than quantity in sleep

Join us in conversation with Sleep Expert Dr Rebecca Robbins, as she explains why focusing on quality instead of quantity of sleep can have a tremendous effect on our health and overall well-being.

Woman resting on a Savoir bed wearing cotton pyjamas, with the bed dressed in crisp white bed linen

Forget the eight hours of recommended sleep. Believe it or not, the quality of our sleep is as important, if not more so, than the quantity of sleep that we get.

Dr Rebecca Robbins

Savoir: Firstly, are there any tell-tale signs that we are not achieving quality sleep?

Dr Robbins: Even a well-rested person may experience tiredness in the afternoon. This fatigue is due to a drop in our body temperature between 1-5 pm. This is particularly evident for those not achieving quality sleep. So much so, that they will look for means such as coffee or other stimulants to keep them awake during these hours. And so, a sleep-deprived person will experience significant sluggishness and sleepiness in the afternoon. If you find yourself desperate for stimulants to maintain alertness, it is a sure sign you are not getting enough quality sleep at night.

Furthermore, research has shown that sleep loss reduces your VO2 max, the amount of oxygen your body can absorb during exercise, which fuels your workout. Inadequate sleep leaves us less motivated to exercise and less able to get a good workout when we do exercise.

As well as exercising, sleep can also impact appetite. When we are sleep deprived, the hormones that regulate our appetite are thrown off balance. Specifically, the hormone ‘leptin’ that tells the brain when we have had enough to eat is inhibited. This leaves us less able to understand when we have had enough to eat and therefore prone to overeating. You make may also make worse nutrition choices. When we are well-rested, we are more motivated to eat healthy meals. But when we are sleep-deprived, we are more likely to reach for sugary, carbohydrate-dense foods.

A woman resting on a Savoir bed dressed in crisp, all-white bed linen
Difficulty waking up can be a tell-tale sign of poor quality sleep

By focusing on getting good quality sleep, we can then focus on the constellation of sleep and things that improve our well-being. And believe it or not, good quality sleep starts as soon as we wake up.

Dr Rebecca Robbins

What role does circadian rhythm play in achieving quality sleep?

Our ability to fall asleep and obtain healthy sleep is, in part, governed by our internal circadian rhythm. This system evolves to understand when we should be alert and when we should be tired. If we keep our bedtimes consistent, our circadian rhythm becomes refined and well ‘trained’ in understanding when we are tired and awake.

If we keep different bed and wake times, then our internal clock is limited in knowing when we should be tired or awake. Leaving us in a constant state of disorientation. This is a recommendation we give our children. We stick to a consistent bedtime routines for them. However, we are guilty of not doing this ourselves. If you keep a consistent sleep schedule, you may find you fall asleep faster and spend less time tossing and turning.

Our haute-couture bed designed by interior designers Francis Sultana, upholstered in eye-catching green tweed with an elegantly curved headboard
The Louis bed designed by Francis Sultana and photographed by Michael Sinclair
Image showing the natural ingredients that make our iconic No2 mattress
Investing in high-quality mattress and bed can greatly improve the quality of your sleep

Can you share some strategies to achieve quality sleep?

Believe it or not, a good night’s sleep starts when we wake up. If you are struggling with poor-quality sleep, these are my top three considerations. Firstly, try introducing a mindfulness-based practice. Meditation and Breathwork are about being present and at peace in the moment. Giving us the tools needed to control our breathing, which leads to a calmer mind and a relaxed body. These are the essential skills to help us fall asleep. Anyone who struggles to fall asleep and spends time tossing and turning may benefit from starting a mindfulness-based practice.

Secondly, alcohol consumed in small doses may help you fall asleep, but much more than that will dramatically reduce the quality of your sleep. Specifically, alcohol pulls you out of deeper stages of sleep, so that you may spend time sleeping but wake up not feeling refreshed.

And finally, stress is the number one cause of insomnia, and managing our emotions and stress is central to our ability to get healthy, restorative sleep. If you kick off a healthy exercise routine, you may also find you fall asleep faster, for exercise releases endorphins which are mood elevators. Not surprisingly, research shows that those who exercise regularly take less time to fall asleep and obtain more restorative sleep than those who do not.


Discover our latest video series, titled the ‘Sleep Wisdom‘, where Dr Rebecca Robbins helps us debunk common sleep myths, understand the science of sleep and more.