Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our day, one that is essential to the overall health of our bodies. In spite of this, it is an area of our lives that we often neglect, mostly because we feel like it is unnecessary. So how much sleep do we really need? The answer to this is not all that simple. There are a number of other factors to take into account, such as your sex, your personal health, your preferences and the level of physical activity you go through during the day.
One of the most common misconceptions that people have is the fact that they can catch up on sleep. Sleep debt accumulates, but the number of hours you are going to have to sleep to catch up would be far more than the hours you have missed out on. This is because your body takes a cumulative toll when you miss out on sleep which makes it necessary to sleep more if you want to make up for the rest you didn’t get. Additionally, there is a misconception that alcohol helps you sleep better. While it is true that having a drink or two would allow you to fall asleep more quickly, the quality of sleep would be very poor. You will end up feeling groggy and tired no matter how long you have slept.
Differences Between Sleep Patterns
About 90% of adults are going to need between seven to nine hours of sleep a day in order to function properly. If you want to ensure that you stay alert and active throughout the day, sleeping around eight hours is vital. However, there are very, very rare cases where people can get by on just three or four hours of sleep a night. These people are referred to as the sleepless elite, but only about one in a hundred people have the ability to function like this.
What Happens While You Sleep?
One of the most important changes that occur while you are asleep is the fact that your brain waves slow down. Instead of the short, frenetic brain waves that occur throughout the day, while you sleep your brain slows down and your muscles loosen up completely. This allows your body to heal and your brain to focus on regulating hormone levels. Not getting enough sleep means that your body would not have enough time to regulate hormones which can cause long-term damage to your system, and your muscles would not get enough time to recuperate either leading to thinks like stiffness and pain.
Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
When you don’t get enough sleep, right off the bat you are going to face some serious difficulty focusing on any task. Headaches in sleep deprived people are common, and severe sleep deprivation can result in loss of appetite along with a number of other issues. Long term sleep deprivation can lead to a weakened immune system which can lead to you getting sick a lot more easily. This is why people that don’t get enough sleep often have the flu or some kind of viral or bacterial infection.
Positive Effects of Getting Enough Sleep
If you want to lose weight and stay in shape, getting enough sleep is one of the most effective ways to do it. This is because maintaining a good sleep schedule helps your body regulate hormone levels which can lead to a much higher metabolism. You’ll also generally experience a more jovial mood because adequate sleep produces serotonin and dopamine. Of course, one of the best benefits of getting enough sleep period is the fact that you are going to end up living a much longer life, so you would get more time to spend with your family and friends.
How to Find the Right Amount of Sleep
The first step to finding your ideal sleep length is fixing your circadian rhythm. Exercise every morning so that you wake your body up, avoid caffeine and alcohol and improve your diet, once you do these things you will start to conform to an ideal sleep schedule. Try to see when you naturally wake up after your circadian rhythm is set. This would be the ideal number of hours you would need in order to have experienced the most restful sleep possible, and it should be your goal when you lie down every night. If you keep getting up at night you might not be sleeping properly, so you should discount any data that you gather while you are still not sleeping all in one go at night. Restless sleep is barely sleep at all, so it really can’t be counted towards total sleep time.
Other Tips to Help You Sleep Better
If you have trouble getting to sleep, you might need to reprogram your mind. Stop using the bedroom for anything but sleep, do your reading outside and watch movies in the living room. This will help associate your bedroom with sleep in your mind, thus helping you fall asleep a lot faster once it is the end of the day. Additionally, if you are looking for restful sleep you should try adjusting the thermostat. You are not going to be able to sleep all that well if your room is too hot or too cold. Try to find the right temperature for your body. You should also try seeing what it’s like to sleep in different areas of your house. Chances are that if you are having trouble sleeping properly, the room you are in is having an affect on that. Often, changing the room you sleep in can help your brain relax a little more, thus helping you fall asleep quicker and enjoy a deeper and more restful overall sleep throughout the night.