How much sleep do you really need to function at your optimal level? Life is so very demanding these days with a lot of us having to get up earlier and getting to bed later even losing out on a little sleep can have real impact on our health both physical and mental. Long term sleep loss can really wreak havoc on our ability to function. That’s why it’s important to get enough sleep, but the question remains how much sleep do you really need?
Why do we need to sleep?
Understanding why we need to sleep is important. Sleeping isn’t just about the rest your body needs it also allows your body to recover and keep it operating in tip top condition. When we sleep our brains are still active. The activity of sleep helps you to function, it enables you to learn, be creative and for your body to function. The amount of sleep and the quality of sleep you get directly impacts upon your physical and mental health. Good quality sleep also ensure you are able to be productive and are emotionally balanced.
Why do you need to service a car? Because it keeps it running in tip top condition. So, the question of why do we need to sleep is the exact same response. We need to sleep to keep our body running in tip top condition and to ensure our bodies and mind don’t break down!
Understanding why we need to sleep and how long we need to sleep for is the first step to ensuring you get the sleep you need to ensure you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
How many hours sleep do you need?
Each morning I waken up and think I could do with another hour! Due to work commitments i get by on the amount I need each day because I have to. I do feel I function ok with this. However, according to research the average adult will get less than 7 hours sleep per night. This is not enough even though people function on it and some even less.
Sleep needed of course depends on he individual, however most adults need on average between 7 and 9 hours each night. I have to admit to needing 9 hours although I get around 7 or 8 if I’m lucky!
Below is a table on the average needs of people based on their age:
|Average Sleep Needed|
|Age||Hours Needed||May be appropriate|
|0 to 3 months||14 – 17 hrs||11 – 19 hrs|
|4 to 11 months||12 – 15 hrs||10 – 18 hrs|
|1 to 2 years||11 – 14 hrs||9 – 16 hrs|
|3 to 5 years||10 – 13 hrs||8 – 14 hrs|
|6 to 13 years||9 – 11 hrs||7 – 12 hrs|
|14 to 17 years||8 – 10 hrs||7 – 11 hrs|
|18 to 25 years||7 – 9 hrs||6 – 11 hrs|
|26 to 64 years||7 – 9 hrs||6 – 10 hrs|
|65+||7 – 8 hrs||5 – 9 hrs|
|Source: National Sleep Foundation|
Not getting enough sleep signs
You probably don’t really know how badly lack of sleep is effecting your performance. Most of us feel subtle signs that we are lacking sleep – it’s not like when we were babies and we would fall face first in to your plate of spaghetti!
You may be getting enough sleep if…
- You rely on the snooze button to get more rest
- You stagger out of bed feeling groggy
- You feel sluggish in the afternoon
- Your eyes start to close during meetings or if your room is too warm
- Fall asleep while watching your favorite show on TV
- Fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
What are the effects of sleep deprivation
There are numerous effects of sleep deprivation. Some may not seem that negative but others will affect how you make decisions, how you manage on a day to day basis and can impede your reaction times.
The effects include:
- Tiredness and a general lack of motivation
- Being irritable
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions, forgetfulness
- Unable to cope with stress
- Weak immune system common colds take longer to get rid of and become more frequent
- Increased risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease.
How to get the right amount of sleep
I want to share with your some sleep tips to help you get the amount of sleep you require so you can function at your best:
1. Bedroom for sleep
Keeping your bedroom for sleep (and sex) will help you sleep. Stay away from TV and other screens such as phones and tablets. Your brain will then recognize your bed and bedroom as a place for sleep and relaxation.
2. Keep it a comfortable, relaxing haven
Your bedroom should be comfortable as possible and that includes the decor, the colour and making sure you use black out curtains to curtail the amount of light in there.
3. Start an adult sleep routine
I can remember when my children were young I used to bath them, put on they PJs, tuck them in bed and read them a story. That doesn’t have to change when you reach adulthood. Set your own bedtime routine as rituals help signal your body and mind that it is time for sleep.
4. Don’t overeat going to bed
While a grumbling stomach can be a little annoying and stop you sleeping at night so can eating too much. Your body will have to use up all those calories in the form of energy making you way too warm to sleep. So avoid any large meals close the bed time.
5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
While alcohol can put you to sleep, it is the worst sleep you will experience! If you drink coffee close to bed time it will also keep you awake as it is a stimulant. If you want to help get yourself ready for sleep then opt for a herbal tea instead.
Easier said than done I know but stress can impact negatively on your sleep. If you do some deep breathing or mindfulness it will help you unwind and relax. Also keep a small notebook by your bed. In it write down anything that is troubling your or a to do list. It gives your brain permission to forget about those things until morning at least.