The science behind restorative sleep

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What is restorative sleep?

In a recent study funded by The Bryte Foundation, a world-class panel of sleep researchers created the first official definition of restorative sleep...

"Restorative sleep is the aspect of sleep associated with improved subjective alertness, cognitive function, mood, energy, and/or wellbeing relative to the immediate pre-sleep period." (Robbins et al, 2022)

Simply put, restorative sleep is achieved when you feel physically, mentally and emotionally restored.

It allows the mind and body to recuperate, heal, and grow.

When a person has had restorative sleep, they wake feeling refreshed, energized, and empowered to live their best possible life each day.

Benefits of restorative sleep

The restorative theory suggests that sleep allows our bodies to repair and replenish - physically, mentally, and emotionally - in preparation for the next day.

We all know some version of this to be true. How we sleep tonight dictates how we live tomorrow. A good night's sleep helps us feel refreshed and empowered. Poor sleep leaves us feeling lethargic and disinterested.

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Your daytime sets up your night. Your nighttime sets up your day.

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Param Dedhia, MD

Param Dedhia, MD

sleep Science Advisor

Quality sleep happens neither by accident nor in isolation. Our daytime experiences and nighttime preparation both impact our sleep. This creates a virtuous cycle: living well drives better sleep, which in turn allows us to live better lives.

How to improve restorative sleep

Most sleep technologies focus on retroactive measurement and improvement. But there is little help available for improving sleep quality in the moment - while we’re sleeping.

That is, until now.

Modern sleep science, paired with advanced sleep technology, has unlocked real-time adaptation and optimization. By measuring how a person is sleeping, and by optimizing their sleep environment, we can improve their restorative sleep outcomes during sleep.

Bryte Balance™ measures, adjusts, and refines your bed’s firmness and support - tuning to optimize for three key measures: duration, efficiency, and stages.

Sleep duration, a key metric within restorative sleep

Sleep duration

Sleep duration - or Total Sleep Time (TST) - is simply the total number of hours, minutes, and seconds you spend asleep each night. Increasing sleep duration increases the overall opportunity for restorative sleep.

Learn more: Sleep duration

Sleep efficiency, an under appreciated contributor to restorative sleep

Sleep efficiency

By comparing total sleep time to time spent in bed, sleep efficiency reflects how efficient sleep is. To be considered restorative, sleep must be largely uninterrupted, allowing sleep cycles to progress naturally.

Learn more: Sleep efficiency

Sleep stages or sleep architecture contributes to restorative sleep

Sleep stages

Sleep is not a uniform process. Our bodies cycle through five vital sleep stages, each performing different restorative functions. Although all sleep stages are important, some are known to be especially restorative to the mind and body.

Learn more: The stages of sleep

Why sleep duration matters

Sleep has a natural cadence and flow. We cycle through the sleep stages from light sleep to deep sleep to REM sleep, and then back. The composition of the sleep cycle changes throughout the night, with certain stages and processes more prevalent in the final hours before waking.

To improve sleep quality, we must sleep long enough. Without adequate sleeping time, we lose whole cycles and disproportionate amounts of important stages like REM sleep.

Read: Am I getting enough sleep?

The significance of sleep efficiency

Fragmented sleep is not restorative sleep. The natural flow of sleep is most restorative when it is allowed to continue uninterrupted. If you are waking too frequently during the night, you are likely to feel less rested the next day.

Achieving consistent, efficient, less fragmented sleep requires a concerted effort to modify your waking behaviors and improve your nighttime environment.

Read: How to stop waking up during the night

Every sleep stage matters

Sleep stages animation and how they contribute to restorative sleep

Many people mistake restorative sleep for a specific phase of sleep, such as deep sleep. This misunderstanding leads them on a path of faux optimization. Over-optimizing one or two specific stages of sleep to an unnatural extent may be detrimental to sleep’s natural restorative potential.

All stages of sleep are vital and invaluable, each performing a distinct biological function. It’s only by taking a holistic view of sleep quality that we can unlock the full restorative potential of natural sleep.

Read: The 5 Stages of Sleep

How to improve restorative sleep

It’s important to understand that sleep is personal and unique. Our environment, health, and life choices determine whether we enjoy restorative sleep and wake feeling revitalized or endure poor sleep and emerge from our beds fatigued and weary.

What improves restorative sleep for one person may disrupt it for another person. Even individually, we need different things at different times. Our sleep needs are dynamic and constantly changing. Quality sleep needs personalized support.

To improve sleep, we need to tailor the experience to the individual sleeper. That’s why we created Bryte Balance.

Informed by science and powered by artificial intelligence, it pinpoints each person’s unique needs at any moment. Instead of reporting back hours later, it proactively modifies temperature, recalibrates support, and adjusts wake-up times in realtime, to maximize quality sleep, while you sleep.

Discover Bryte Balance

Advancing Restorative Sleep Science

The Bryte Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Bryte that exists to advance sleep science and socialize the positive impacts of quality, restorative sleep.

The Bryte Foundation mobilizes the scientific community, and funds research to develop a deeper understanding of the benefits of restorative sleep.


Built by world-renowned sleep experts

We conceived and built Bryte Balance™ with sleep scientists at the heart of our team.

Our sleep science advisory board is led by Dr. Matthew Walker, Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Human Sleep Science and author of the best-selling book ‘Why We Sleep’, and is supported by an array of clinicians and researchers from around the world.

At Bryte, biology prescribes technology.

Bryte’s unique AI:
Restorative Intelligence

Learn more >