Why Hours of Sleep Matters A Lot
No other natural activity affects your physical and mental health as well as your mood during the day like sleep does. Specifically, sleep impacts:
- Brain and heart health
- Immune function
- Emotional wellbeing
When you’re juggling tasks or scrambling to meet the demands of a crazy schedule, or just struggling to snooze, getting by with bare sleep may seem acceptable. That’s not true.
Sleep loss can take a toll on your moods, focus, and ability to endure stressful situations, which can give rise to chronic sleep loss that will wreak havoc on your mental and physical health in the long run.
Common Sleeping Myths
Let’s fight some myths with facts:
Myth 1: Falling asleep for one hour each night won’t affect your normal functioning throughout the day.
Losing even a single hour of sleep can affect your thinking and reflexes. Not to mention, it may harm your cardiovascular health, lower immunity, and compromise your energy.
Myth 2: Your body can adjust to different sleep schedules quickly.
Your body can reset your biological clock, but only using timed cues. And even if does, not by more than an hour or two at best. If you’re traveling across different time zones or working night shifts, it may take up to a week for the body to adjust.
Myth 3: Extra sleep at night can cure excessive daytime fatigue.
The amount of sleep you get is important. But it’s the sleep quality you need to pay more attention to at night. You can sleep eight or nine hours each night, but wake up feeling not well-rested because of sleep interruption or other issues that lower the quality of sleep.
Myth 4: Sleeping more on weekends can help make up for lost sleep on a normal week.
While getting extra sleep can help relieve the part of the sleep burden, it won’t completely make up for sleep loss. Not to mention, sleeping late on weekends can negatively impact your sleep-wake cycle. You will struggle to catch some sleep at the scheduled bed hours on Sunday nights or rouse yourself on Monday mornings.
Sleep isn’t merely a period when the body shuts off. At rest, your brain stays active, controlling biological processes that sustain life and get your body ready for the day ahead. Not getting enough restorative sleep means you won’t work, communicate, or learn at your true potential.
Amount of sleep
There’s a huge difference between the amount of sleep to get by on and the amount your body needs to function at an optimum level. The National Institutes of Health estimates that an adult sleeps for roughly seven hours each night. In our fast-paced world, seven hours of sleep may seem okay. But it’s not, as it ultimately sets the stage for sleep deprivation.
You can get by with six or even seven hours of sleep. However, it doesn’t mean you won’t feel much better or do more if you spend an extra hour in bed.
|Hours of Sleep
|Young adults (18 - 25 years old)
|Adults (26 to 64 years old)
Sleep requirements may vary slightly from one person to another. Adults typically need seven to eight hours of sleep each night to function optimally. Seniors and older adults, who struggle to sleep for seven hours at night, can fill the gap with daytime snooze.
Benefits of Deep Sleep (and REM Sleep)
True, the number of hours you spend in bed is important, but so is the quality of sleep during that period. If you sleep get many hours of sleep but still struggle to wake up each morning or stay alert all day, you may not be spending enough time at different stages of sleep.
Although every stage in the sleep cycle - updated by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine- is beneficial, it’s the deep sleep phase that is the most important. It’s the time when your body heals itself and stocks up energy for the coming day. REM sleep is equally important as it boosts your mind and mood. To ensure you get more deep sleep each night, avoid alcohol and nicotine. Sleep an extra 30 minutes each morning to improve REM sleep.
Am I Sleep Deprived?
If you’re not sleeping for at least eight hours per night, there’s a huge possibility you’re sleep-deprived. And have no idea how lack of sleep is affecting your body and health. A lot of the signs that accompany sleep deprivation are more subtle than you think.
You may not even be aware of what it feels like to stay wide-awake, alert, and function at a peak level. Maybe it feels “normal” to you to doze off in boring office meetings, struggle through the afternoon work, or feel sleepy after dinner. Your new normal is because you're actually sleep-deprived.
- Struggle to get out of bed each morning
- Depend on an alarm clock to wake promptly
- Feel slow, or sluggish in the afternoon
- Always rely on the snooze button
- Doze off in meetings or in warm rooms
- Feel drowsy right after having a meal
- Need a nap at some point during the day
- Doze off when relaxing or watching TV
- Strong urge to sleep in on weekends
- Fall asleep fast when you go to bed
Invest in Quality Sleep
How much sleep you need to get is important, but so is the quality of sleep. It's possible to restore your sleep without trading off your mental health or productivity. Start by addressing sleep-related problems and make time to get enough sleep at night. Increasing sleeping hours including naps and improving the quality of your sleep can lead to a significant boost in energy, mood, and alertness. Your productivity will go up and you avoid heart disease and other sleep problems.
If an old mattress is getting in the way of quality sleep or you're struggling with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, invest in a high-quality mattresses from Sleep First.