How Much Sleep Do I Need
Theres some debate on exactly how much sleep a person needs.
But there are some best practices.
7 to 9 hours is widely accepted as the ideal target for a good nights rest. The National Sleep Foundation promotes this range, and researchers in the UK did a study that corroborated the recommendation.
Well roll with 7 to 9 hours as an ideal target for a good nights sleep.
I should note, that there is a small percentage of people who have a rare gene that allows them to get by on 6 hours of sleep or less.
Steve, Im sure Im one of those mutants who only needs 6 hours of sleep. Sounds like Im good to go, right?
As much as we all want to be part of the X-Men
I used the word rare there intentionally because only about 4 in 100,000 people have this specific mutation.;
Realistically, you probably dont have the special gene that makes you need less sleep. Sorry.;
This is why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society both recommend healthy adults get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Knowing you need to get 7 hours of sleep is one thing. But knowing is only half the battle
So lets get to the root of the problem for most:;
I know I need to sleep more, but my day is too busy and I just cant get to bed sooner or wake up earlier.
First and foremost, youre not alone. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,;nearly a third of all working Americans get six hours or fewer of sleep a night.
What Is The Best Natural Sleeping Position
How do you like to sleep? On your stomach? On your side? Or maybe full-on starfish?
We all sleep differently. For some, this means dropping off and waking up in relatively the same position as you nodded off in. While for others, it means sleeping in lots of different positions throughout the night.
There are three main sleeping positions:
Sleeping on your side is reportedly the most popular sleeping position.5;It can help in the snoring stakes too because when you sleep on your side, your airways are more open than if you sleep on your back.6
So, weve established the most popular sleeping position. What about the best sleeping positions?
Comparing Your Baby To Their Baby
In every new baby playgroup there is the blessed child who starts sleeping through the night at 4 weeks and takes huge chunky naps during the day. You will look at this well rested, recently showered parent and start to feel like you must have failed in some significant way. You havent, they just got lucky. About 33% of babies are easy they are easily soothed, fall asleep easily, sleep longer with less frequent night wakings, etc. Its just the way of the world. Your baby will get there too. Eventually
If you havent already checked it out, Baby Sleep: What is Normal is also a really great resource on how much sleep babies need by age.
So did I miss any? Feel free to share any stumbles youve had. I promise you, you arent the only one!
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Worrying About Sleeping Through The Night
Your newborn baby might be sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. Or it may be 8 months. You may get a lucky night where she sleeps all night and then be horrified when it never happens again. I know how tired you are. For a year and a half I would fantasize about leaving my baby home with my husband so I could go to a hotel and sleep blissfully uninterrupted for AS. LONG. AS. I. WANTED. Newborn sleep bounces around like an angry snake. Youll have hideous nights. Wonderful nights. And youll never know what youre going to get. Dont worry about it. It wont be like this forever.
Improve Your Sleeping Environment
Good sleep is more likely if your bedroom feels restful and comfortable. Suggestions include:
- Invest in a mattress that is neither too hard nor too soft.
- Make sure the room is at the right temperature.
- Ensure the room is dark enough.
- If you cant control noise , buy a pair of earplugs.
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping and intimacy. If you treat your bed like a second lounge room for watching television or talking to friends on the phone, for example your mind will associate your bedroom with activity.
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Don’t Stay In Bed If You Can’t Sleep
This is a complicated rule rooted in psychology. If you’ve been in bed for more than, say, 30 minutes and can’t drift off to sleep, don’t lie there and stew. Counterintuitively, you’re supposed to get up and do something relaxing, like reading, journaling, light stretching, or meditating . Remaining in bed while anxious about your inability to sleep will only create negative associations between bed and sleep, which can even lead to the vicious cycle of insomnia. Your bed should be a sanctuary for sleep not a trap for tossing and turning.
Read A Printed Book And Keep Your Electronic Devices Away
Reading from light-emitting electronic devices, such as phones and tablets can disturb your sleep rhythm. The effects include falling asleep later, a decrease in the quality of sleep, feeling sleepier in the morning, and a lower rate of alertness after waking.15
If you like to read before sleeping, read from a printed book in reflected light.15
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Dont Sleep On A Full Or Empty Stomach
When you eat a heavy meal late at night, your body will be more concerned about digesting your food as you sleep, rather than working on rest and repair.
It is much harder for your body to do this when youre awake, so try and avoid sleeping on a full stomach.
If you get peckish before bed, opt for a healthy light snack and foods to help you sleep like fruit or a small bowl of low-sugar cereal.
Dont Stay In Bed Awake For More Than 5
- If you find your mind racing, or worrying about not being able to sleep during the middle of the night, get out of bed, and sit in a chair in the dark. Do your mind racing in the chair until you are sleepy, then return to bed. No TV or internet during these periods! That will just stimulate you more than desired.
- If this happens several times during the night, that is OK. Just maintain your regular wake time, and try to avoid naps.
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Avoid Drinking Anything Before Bed
Stop drinking 1 to 2 hours before going to bed. This will prevent you from waking up in the night to pee, which happens to be one of the most common sleep disturbances.;
When it comes to alcohol, drinking any at all can seriously interfere with your sleep. When you pass out from drinking too much youre falling into only a superficial sleep. Thats because alcohol reduces the amount of rapid eye movement sleep, which is the restorative phase of sleep that helps your muscles regenerate and keeps you feeling rested. Plus, alcohol also causes you to wake up during the night, sometimes more than once, which can cause your sleep cycle to become irregular.;
What Are The Stages Of Sleep
Like the Indiana Jones movies, sleep can vary in quality.
Some types of sleep can be great, while some sleep can be crappy .
Lets take a quick look at the different stages of sleep first.
We have Rapid Eye Movement Sleep, and Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep:
- Non-REM Sleep Stage 1: Where youre kind of asleepbut not reallybut working on it. This lasts about 5-10 minutes.
- Non-REM Sleep Stage 2:;Your heart rate slows, your body temperature decreases, and you start to drop further into slumberthis can last about 20 minutes or so.
- Non-REM Sleep Stage 3 and 4:;also called slow-wave sleep, and each can last up to 30 minutes. These stages are where you get deep sleep.
- REM Sleep:This is the point of the night where your eyeballs flail around your eye socket. Its also when dreaming occurs, and one of the most important stages for mental functioning the next day.
Your body goes through these stages in order, but as you repeat sleep cycles , the duration can shift dramatically.
Sleep Junkies provides a pretty good graph of different sleep cycles , which well borrow below:
In this example of Cycle 5 the sleeper barely spends any time in deep sleep, but much more time in REM sleep.;
Our bodies are cray like that.;
Whats with the different stages of sleep?
Dont worry, Ill explain exactly how to stop this from happening with the Nerd Fitness Sleep Calculator.
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How To Get The Deep Sleepyou Crave
Some nights, getting a good, deep nights sleep, can feel like an impossible feat. Maybe you are about to start a new job and are already feeling those first day jitters. If youre a new parent, you may be wondering why you ever took your blissful nights of uninterrupted sleep for granted. Or maybe youre the one lying awake wondering why you thought it would be a good idea for that third cup of coffee at 4 in the afternoon.
However you struggle with sleep, the benefits of catching those quality zzzs are undeniable. When we get a full 7 or 8 hours our days seem easier, stress levels lowered, and our energy levels increased so we are able to summon the strength and motivation to accomplish whatever challenges our day may bring.
But what about those nights when we are on our mattresses for those 7, 8, or 9 hours and still feel like we are about to fall asleep as our boss drones and we cant peel our eyes off of the clock? At Nectar, weve done our homework and found that not all sleep is created equally. In fact, more important than the quantity of sleep you are getting each night is the quality of those hours, with deep sleep being one of the most important phases to consider in terms of overall health and energy.
Lets break it down:
Turn On Some White Or Pink Noise
Light sleepers, like me, will wake up at the drop of a hator the sound of a spouse rolling over. I blame motherhood, which now has my ears perked up throughout the night. Try any kind of soothing background noise, like a fan, to muffle the other sounds. You can even purchase a white noise machine, which experts use to sleep better.
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Set A Bedtime Schedule
Sleep Timetable: You have to learn how to get back to bed at a proper time. You should set the timings when to sleep and have to develop a conscious to have sleep. The timing of sleep is important, and it is best to sleep as much as possible during the nighttime.
Sleeping at night, on the other hand, helps the bodys circadian rhythm, or internal clock, to be more in sync with its surroundings. Correct circadian timing is crucial for better;sleep quality;and has an effect on mental health, heart function, metabolic activity, and other important aspects of general wellbeing.
Adopt A Bedtime Ritual
Your body and mind need a signal that it’s time to sleep, so develop series of relaxing actions you perform each night that act as your own personal off switch. Reading is good, so is taking a hot bath. “The rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness,” explains Harvard Med’s Healthy Sleep site.
Just avoid that quick pre-bed work email check or any other potentially stimulating or stressful activity. It can raise your cortisol levels making it harder to get to sleep.
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Optimizing Your Sleep Schedule
Taking control of your daily sleep schedule is a powerful step toward getting better sleep. To start harnessing your schedule for your benefit, try implementing these four strategies:
- Set a Fixed Wake-Up Time: Its close to impossible for your body to get accustomed to a healthy sleep routine if youre constantly waking up at different times. Pick a wake-up time and stick with it, even on weekends or other days when you would otherwise be tempted to sleep in.
- Budget Time for Sleep: If you want to make sure that youre getting the recommended amount of sleep each night, then you need to build that time into your schedule. Considering your fixed wake-up time, work backwards and identify a target bedtime. Whenever possible, give yourself extra time before bed to wind down and get ready for sleep.
Write Down Any Worries
Bouts of anxiety are normal, especially when all goes quiet at bedtime and we no longer have distractions from our own mind.
You can almost guarantee those past embarrassing moments like when you fell flat on your face in front of your date will rear their ugly heads. Perhaps not the best things to be running through your mind before bed!
Events like interviews or dinner with the in-laws can keep you up too. If this happens to your regularly, try to set aside some time before bed to make a list of anything thats bothering you or you need to remember for the morning after.
If your mind is still whirring after this, resist the urge to pick up your phone and try to focus on something abstract instead, like the journey to school when you were younger, did you walk? Get driven? What sites/landmarks did you pass? Which door did you use to enter the school?
Focussing on something familiar and requiring low-level concentration like this may help you to fall asleep.
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How Long Do You Need To Sleep
While youve probably been told that you need eight hours of sleep for most of your life, todays research shows that seven hours is a better amount of time for a lot of people.;
Of course, just because thats whats recommended doesnt necessarily mean it will suit your needs. Some people naturally need more sleep while others need less, and just like diets or routines, everyone has to figure out what good sleep looks like for them.;
However, one thing is certain for everyone: Its absolutely essential to get enough sleep to activate the regeneration process in our bodies. If you dont get enough regular rest, it can have consequences on your long-term health.
We know what it is to not get enough rest, but did you know that you can also get too much sleep? To find out more about how much sleep you need, check out this article.
If you have sleep problems, use our eight simple tips to sleep better ASAP.;
Make Sure Your Mattress Is Comfortable
The type of mattress that you use can impact the quality of your sleep. 16,17 If you shift positions often, wake up several times, and/or wake up with shoulder or back pain, your mattress may be to blame. If your mattress sagsmeaning that you can see a compression in some part of the mattress, it will almost always create sleep discomfort and can worsen back problems.
A mattress with ergonomic standards and the right level of firmness may help promote better sleep, typically by providing an even surface and reducing body aches and pains.16,17 A medium-firm mattress may provide adequate body support to enhance your sleep quality.17
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Set Your Bedroom Temperature
Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly affect sleep quality.
As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be very hard to get a good nights sleep when its too warm.
One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise (
That said, the quality and type of your late-night snack may play a role as well.
In one study, a high carb meal eaten 4 hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster .
Interestingly, one study discovered that a low carb diet also improved sleep, indicating that carbs arent always necessary, especially if youre used to a low carb diet .
Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, certain meals and snacks a few hours before bed may help.
Set Yourself Up For Success
A good nights sleep does wonders for you, both mentally and physically. But if youre having trouble falling asleep, the anxiety that triggers can actually make it even harder to catch some zzzs.
Whether you do progressive muscle relaxation or start dimming the lights after dinner, set yourself up for a great nights sleep with a soft and supportive mattress for the sleep of your dreams.;
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Use A Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are heavy blankets used as a form of pressure therapy to create a calming effect and help stimulate the release of serotonin in your brain. The ideal weighted blanket is around 10% of your body weight, since the blanket applies enough pressure that youre calm and relaxed without feeling too restricted.;
Whether you use a weighted blanket during your pre-bedtime ritual or throughout the night, your body will surely thank you for it.