HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE NEED?
This is a long-debated question – just how much sleep do we really need? And is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? There are many myths about the ‘right amount of sleep’ but how do we know which ones are true? Well to help us explore this intriguing question, we’ve sought advice from the National Sleep Foundation and here is what they had to say.
What’s the “Magic Number?”
Firstly its important to understand that sleep needs will differ across age groups. They are also impacted by people’s lifestyle and health choices. Therefore, to determine how much sleep we really need need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum,” but also to examine what lifestyle factors can be affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep. This can include- work schedules, obligations, if you have a family or lived one, your health and also stress levels. To get the sleep you need, you must look at the bigger picture.
We cannot determine the exact amount of sleep people need as a collective, however, we do now have the tools to help people make decisions on this at an individual level. Starting with age groups, we have a table which identifies the “rule-of-thumb” for sleep patterns within differing groups – click here to view.
Now we need to look at other contributing factors. It’s important to pay attention to how you personally respond to different amounts of sleep. Are you productive, healthy and happy on just six hours of sleep? Or does it take you eight hours of quality ZZZs to get you into top gear? It may feel over indulgent at times when you feel like you need more sleep than you are currently getting- but its important to listen to your body. Sleep is the time the body restores and repairs itself, so if its telling you it needs more, then pay attention.
Healthy Mind, Healthy Mind, Healthy Sleep
How is your health? Are you getting regular exercise and eating well? If not, this can also have an impact on the quality of your sleep and how much you need. If you aren’t taking good care of yourself, this can lead to you feeling like you need more rest, as your body requires further time to restore itself to a level of regular health. Focus on getting your health and fitness into balance and notice how this affects your sleep patterns.
What You Can Do To Improve Your Sleep
To pave the way for better sleep, here are some expert tips on how to improve your own sleep cycle:
- Establish consistent ‘’sleep and wake-up’’ schedules, even on weekends
- Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music—begin these special sleep rituals an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
- Use your bedroom only for sleep (and sex) keep the “sleep stealers” out of this area and avoid watching TV, using computer or reading in bed. It should be a technology free zone!
- Finish eating at least 2-3 hours prior to your regular daily bedtime
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol products when your bedtime is approaching and forget about this evening cigarette
- Have a glass of warm water and lemon a hour before you go to bed
But most importantly, make sleep a priority!! You must add sleep to your schedule, like any other daily activity. So its time to put it on your “to-do list” and cross it off every night! Yes, we actually said that! Don’t make it something that happens as a result of burning out each day… instead, look forward to your sleep and ensure it gets the same respect as everything else on your to do list.