How to sleep: Sleep experts reveal formula for the ‘perfect night’s sleep’

Getting a good night’s sleep is not always easy, particularly if you always find yourself waking up in the night or struggle to nod off at bedtime. Sleep scientist Jason Ellis and bed retailer Nectar Sleep recently collaborated to come up with a formula for the perfect night’s sleep. According to the sleep experts, the formula – which breaks down the different components that combine to impact the quality of sleep – improves sleep by up to a third. The formula the pair came up with is (SD + SE + SJL + SEC + SRB) / SDC = PNS. But what does it mean?

SD stands for sleep duration – with between seven and nine hours per night considered ideal.

SE is sleep efficiency – which is the percentage of time spent asleep in bed. This should be in excess of 85 per cent.

SJL is social jet lag – if you have a lie in in the morning, make sure it is for less than an hour in order to minimise disruption to sleep patterns.

SEC is optimum sleep criteria – this requires a maximum bedroom temperature of 22°C, minimal lighting and noise levels well below 40db.

The mattress should be comfortable and supportive to minimise the risk of tossing and turning, which can impact the quality of your sleep.

SRB is sleep routine behaviour – this advises no caffeine for six hours before bed. Work activities, exercise and eating should all be completed two hours before your head hits the pillow.

SDC is sleep disturbance criteria – which considers whether a person has a recognised sleep problem, uses medicine or alcohol to aid sleep, feels drowsy during the day or believes their bed partner has a sleep problem.

The optimum SD, SE, SJL, SEC and SRB variables are combined and then divided by SDC to generate the formula for the perfect night’s sleep.

The optimum sleep score is 18, but the average score within a sample of over 700 Brits was 12, around 33 per cent below ‘perfect’.

The optimal score of 18 can be achieved by scoring the following:

SD = seven to nine hours (2 points)

SE = 85% (2 points)

SJL = less than one hour (3 points)

SEC = 22º = 2 points + no noise = 1 point + no light = 1 point + no electronic use = 1 point + good comfortable bed and temperature at night = 2 points (7 points)

SRB = no eating or exercise within two hours of bed = 1 point + no working within two hours of bed = 1 point + no caffeine within six hours of bed = 1 point + no smoking within 30 minutes of sleep = 1 point (4 points)

SDC = do not consider themselves to have a sleep problem = 0 points + not using alcohol or medication to sleep = 0 points + partner does not have a sleep problem = 0 points + not seeing a healthcare professional for sleep = 0 points + do not feel sleepy in the daytime = 0 points (0 points)

The research also found that people are typically left wanting at least another hour of sleep a night.

“Sleep (or lack of) remains a source of stress and anxiety for many,” said Nectar Sleep Managing Director Angela Crouch.

“That’s why we have joined forces with sleep scientists to break down all the different elements that can impact this, creating one neat formula that tired Brits can use as a guide to get them sleeping better.”

“Good quality sleep can have such a positive impact on a number of things. From concentration to creativity levels and even how we approach challenging situations,” said psychologist and Director of Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research Jason Ellis.

“Though avoiding caffeine and minimising noise may sound obvious, when combined with the other formula components, people might just be surprised about how much better they can actually sleep.”