What is sleep efficiency and what is its significance?

When it comes to healthy sleep , the focus is often on the duration of sleep. It is often said that people need between 6 and 8 hours to fully regenerate.

The need for sleep depends on various factors. These relate, for example, to age , state of health and general lifestyle. However, the length of sleep alone is not a good measurement tool to find out whether sleep is healthy and adequate.

Using the sleep efficiency is described targeted, how much time is actually spent sleeping. It is a good aid to illustrate sleep disorders , for example In this article you will find out exactly what sleep efficiency is all about and how it is measured.

Do you lie in bed for a long time in the evening and would much rather fall asleep, but you can’t do it? Are your thoughts circling around wildly and you can’t switch off?

Then you are not alone with this problem. It is similar for many people who go to sleep early, but only fall asleep after a few hours. This condition is not ideal and one reason why daytime tiredness occurs.

The sleep efficiency clearly illustrates this lack of sleep. It shows the relationship between the length of sleep and the time spent in bed.


You spend 10 hours in bed that you would use to sleep. However, you lie awake in bed for 4 hours and do not manage to fall asleep. After the 4 hours you manage to sleep for at least 6 hours. This results in a ratio of 6 hours of sleep to 10 hours of bedtime. The sleep efficiency is now calculated as (6/10) * 100 = 60%.

It looks different with another person who falls asleep quickly. She lies in bed for 7 hours and falls asleep after just 20 minutes. For the calculation, the hours are converted into minutes. This results in a sleep efficiency of (400/420) * 100 = 95%.

The latter person gets more sleep even though they spend less time in bed. Your sleep efficiency is much higher and is at a healthy level.


Sleep efficiency is a characteristic of sleep behavior in order to determine a possible sleep disorder. If a lot of time is spent in bed and it is not possible to fall asleep, this indicates a disturbed sleep behavior.

healthy sleep efficiency is approximately between 85 to 95%. A value of 90 to 95% should be aimed for. This means that if you sleep for 8 hours, it only takes you around 30 minutes to fall asleep.

If there is an insomnia, the sleep efficiency is usually below a value of 85%. Then there is indeed the desire to fall asleep quickly, but this does not succeed due to various factors. The reasons for the insomnia are often to be found in stress . There is not enough time for yourself and only in the evening do the problems of the day come to the fore again. Then these thoughts circle like mad and the necessary relaxation does not occur to find sleep.

To increase sleep efficiency and reduce sleep deprivation, sleep restriction is an important tool. The aim of this is to reduce the time in bed to a minimum. For this purpose, test subjects are deliberately deprived of sleep and you are only allowed to go to bed if you feel completely tired. Due to the forced lack of sleep, you will fall asleep much more quickly. Then, night after night, increase the amount of sleep allowed so that a healthy level of sleep efficiency is achieved .


Sleep efficiency can be measured in different ways.


A simple remedy is the self-kept sleep diary. Different values ​​are entered in this diary every morning and evening. These can be, for example:

Degree of tension / relaxation
Daily events
Sense of performance
Time of falling asleep
Duration of sleep
Quality of sleep

On the basis of these properties, connections between lifestyle and sleep can be drawn. For example, it could be deduced from this that alcohol consumption leads to greater tiredness on the following day.

The sleep diary is created individually . There is no standardized basis that is used here.

Due to the self-assessment at the time of sleep, the calculation of sleep efficiency is less accurate. Because even it is hardly possible to determine exactly to the minute when you fell asleep. Nevertheless, a rough estimate of the sleep efficiency is possible.


There are now various technical aids that monitor sleep for private use . Here, for example, sleep sensors are used, which lie on the mattress as a base and record various vital functions. Based on the movements, the heart rate and the breathing, it can usually be determined relatively precisely when the time has come to fall asleep.

Also bracelets can take this measurement. Although these technical aids are less precise than a sleep laboratory, they at least allow an objective insight into sleep behavior.


Most accurate is the measurement of the time of falling asleep in the sleep laboratory. The point in time at which sleep begins can be precisely determined there. To make matters worse, however, the laboratory conditions mean that it is more difficult to fall asleep. Therefore, the measurement of sleep efficiency is only a first yardstick for assessing possible sleep disorders.


Do you lie awake in bed for a long time , cannot fall asleep and are not well rested the next morning?

Then this problem can be expressed in concrete terms based on sleep efficiency It describes the relationship between the length of sleep and the time you spent in bed. The lower the sleep efficiency, the more likely this indicates a disturbed sleep behavior. A sleep efficiency of less than 85% is a clear indication of an existing sleep disorder.

Jamie Clark

Hello, I’m Jamie Clark, 32 years old, and I have been living in the USA for a few years.
Since I was a child, I have suffered from a house dust allergy, severely affecting me. I felt the effects both while exercising and while sleeping. Constant sneezing after getting up and difficult breathing were the consequences. The allergy has also developed into asthma, which is still a sporting restriction today.

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