What's Your Sleep Type?

And how to finally get some rest.

Woman sleeping

Do you have trouble falling asleep, or are you a hit-the-pillow-and-knock-right-out kind of person? Are you up every few hours, or do you sleep until morning?

How you sleep can say a lot about your health and how well you perform during the day. Neuroscientist Dr. Nicole Avena says that by knowing your "sleep type," you can learn how to get the best rest for your body.

Sleep Type: A Short-Circuit Sleeper

A "short-circuit sleeper" is someone who has trouble staying asleep all night, Avena says. This sleep type could be considered a "light sleeper" — those who are quick to wake with any noise or disturbance and usually have trouble falling asleep.

When a short-circuit sleeper wakes up, they don't feel fully rested and are more likely to hit the snooze button and go for the extra cup(s) of coffee.

This sleep type also tends to remember their dreams often, because you need to be "awake" to encode your dreams into long-term memory, Avena says. If you wake up often during the night, you may realize that you're able to recount your dreams more than someone who sleeps more soundly.

Avena says that if short-circuit sleepers make small changes like these to their daily routines, it could have big results:

  • Don't hit that snooze button and instead get up right away.
  • Lay off the caffeine and sugar in the afternoon.
  • Avoid watching TV or looking at electronic devices before bed.
  • Make sure you are getting enough exercise throughout the day.

Sleep Type: Light-Switch Sleeper

You know that friend or colleague who is always late in the morning? Or your partner who always falls asleep on the couch? These folks could be "light-switch sleepers."

Avena says that light-switch sleeper has two modes: on and off. That means when they sleep, they are sleeping heavily, most likely through disturbances that a light sleeper may wake up from. It's hard to wake up light-switch sleepers and they tend to sleep through alarms. This sleep type will usually never remember their dreams, Avena says, because they don't wake to be able to encode them.

Avena says that although light-switch sleepers are most likely getting restful sleep, it seems that their bodies need even more of it. To help light-switch sleepers wake up more easily, Avena suggests starting a bedtime routine earlier in the evening. If you're falling asleep watching TV, this is a sign you're tired, Avena says, and should just go to bed.

Sleep Type: The Energy-Saving Sleeper

If you're an "energy saving sleeper" you may require less sleep than most people, she says. Most adults need seven or more hours of sleep on a regular basis, and getting less than six hours can have a negative impact on health and performance, she adds. But a small percentage of adults are short sleepers, and they can feel alert and refreshed after just 6 hours of sleep.

It's important to note, though, that "short sleeping" is different from insomnia. People with insomnia have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, and the overall quality of their sleep may be poor, Avena says. Short sleepers function normally during the day despite their short sleep duration, she adds.

There's no fix for the short sleepers, because there is no need. In contrast, short sleepers have no complaints about sleep problems, and the quality of their sleep also tends to be good.

How to Get a Better Night Sleep No Matter Your Sleep Style

1. Have a routine

No matter your sleep type, having a sleep routine is important and a good way to get the body into a sleeping rhythm.

2. Turn off your devices

Give yourself a moment to reflect on the day without any interruptions. Consider it your pre-sleep "me" time

3. Get a new mattress

The Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your mattress every six to eight years depending on use. Dr. Oz's Good Life brand offers an adjustable bed that is perfect for relaxation and comfort. You can sit up and read before bed comfortably and recline to get the perfect night's sleep.

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