How much sleep do I actually need?

11th August 2021

A key element of maintaining positive mental wellbeing and good general health is your sleeping pattern. Sleep is just as important for your general health as eating well and exercising, and how you feel during the day is usually a reflection of how you’ve slept. For children and teens, sleep is crucial for growth and development.

 

Why is sleep so important?

There are quite a few bodily processes that are greatly affected by sleep and sleep quality.

  1. Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight

Studies have shown that people who sleep in shorter durations do tend to weigh more than those who get an adequate amount of sleep. Short sleep durations are one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. This is believed to be due to the effect on your hormones and motivation to exercise.

  1. Sleep deprived individuals are more likely to eat more calories

Sleep deprivation can disrupt the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones. This is believed to cause poor appetite regulation.

  1. Getting a good night sleep can improve your concentration and productivity levels

One study found that getting a poor night’s sleep can have the same effect on your concentration levels the next day as alcohol intoxication!

  1. Good sleep can maximize athletic performance

Sleep is essential for professional athletes to maintain a high level of performance. A study in over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength, and greater difficulty performing independent activities.

  1. Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke

Sleep quality and duration can have a huge effect on many risk factors associated with the heart. 15 different studies found that people who didn’t get enough sleep were actually at a far greater risk of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke.

  1. Sleep can affect your type 2 diabetes risk levels

In a study in healthy young men, their sleep was restricted to 4 hours a night for 6 nights in a row. Following this, they all showed symptoms of prediabetes. These symptoms were resolved after one week of increased sleep duration.

  1. Poor sleep is linked to depression

Many of us know the feeling of being unable to sleep and feeling like the rest of world is enjoying a comforting slumber whilst we’re tossing and turning. It’s no wonder that increased difficulty in sleeping can cause feelings of depression.

  1. Sleep improves your immune function

If you often get colds, ensuring that you get at least 8 hours of sleep per night could be immensely helpful.

  1. Increased inflammation is linked to poor sleeping habits

As sleep affects your body’s natural inflammatory responses, poor sleep has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease. It can also increase your risk of disease recurrence.

  1. Sleep affects emotions and social interactions

Using emotional facial recognition tests, a number of studies found that a loss of sleep can often reduce your ability to interact socially and recognise others’ emotions.

 

 

What can help me to fall asleep?

The key to falling asleep quickly and easily, is the winding down process. Many people who continue to do stimulating activities such as looking at their phones or playing on a games console or a computer find that they have trouble winding down. Their brains are still very alert by the time they have chosen to go to bed, therefore they will find it harder to drop off.

To ensure that you can drop off easily, you should stop your activity around 60 minutes before heading to bed. Allow your mind to relax and keeping your room very dark will help send your body a signal that it’s time to sleep.

 

How much sleep do I need?

Deciding on how much sleep is needed for someone is like their height, entirely dependent on a case-by-case basis. In general, anywhere between 3-11 hours can actually be considered normal.

Determining how many hours sleep is optimal for you, is all about trial and error. The ultimate goal is to feel awake, healthy and fresh. If you feel like you aren’t getting enough sleep, then you most likely aren’t.

 

 

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