Sleep 101, Part 1
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
Although most of us realise that a good night’s sleep is important, too few actually make those hours between the sheets a priority. Many of us with sleep debt have forgotten what being truly rested feels like. Even though we have been told to aim for eight hours, the age-old questions still arise…How much sleep do we really need? Are we getting enough sleep? What signs indicate that we are sleep-deprived?
Let’s take a look:
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) revisited this exact question in a world-class study guided by sleep experts in 2015. After reviewing over 300 research studies and compiling expert opinions, the NSF established age-based minimums and maximums as a rule-of-thumb, suggesting that adults between 18-64 need 7-9 hours of sleep.
Those over 65 need around 7-8 hours. Ultimately, the NSF as well as many other sleep experts, emphasised that it is critical to pay attention to our individual needs.
Am I Getting Enough Sleep? Most sleep experts suggest that the best way to know if you are getting enough sleep is to pay attention to how you feel on different amounts of sleep. The rule of thumb would be: How much sleep do you require to feel wide awake, productive, and happy?
What Signs Indicate That I Am Sleep-Deprived? Given that sleep is vital to every physiological system in the human body, when we are deprived, common signs crop up:
Moodiness: Sleep and emotional health are deeply interconnected. When sleep- deprived, we are more likely to have a negative outlook, be irritable, and have more difficulty coping with stress.
Reduced performance and productivity: Chronic sleep deprivation can negatively affect our abilities to reason and focus. Nighttime sleep and dreaming also promote new learning, memory consolidation and greater creativity.
Weight gain: People who sleep fewer than six hours per night are more likely to be overweight and may be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
You’re not looking your best: Red, puffy eyes, dark under-eye circles and turned-down corners of the mouth were all identified in sleep-deprived people in a Stockholm University study.
Your judgement is faltering: When sleep-deprived, the area of the brain responsible for making good decisions, the prefrontal cortex, essentially, goes to sleep.
Your libido’s flagging: Fatigue is a huge factor in why people don’t want to engage in sex. It may also be a sign of untreated sleep apnoea.
You’re drowsy during the day: Pretty obvious, but feeling exhausted during the day is a red flag that you aren’t getting enough shut-eye.
If you’re not sure what the right amount of sleep is for you, try to get the required 7-9 hours, and then, see how you feel by varying the number of hours. If you experience any of these red flags of sleep deprivation, try increasing your sleep time, and join us over the next two months to learn how your sleep cycles impact you, and how you can improve your sleep quality.