How Much Sleep Do I Need? A Definitive Guide : An average of 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. But how much sleep do I need?
That’s a good question, but it’s also only the start. If you feel exhausted every morning, sleep might not be your only problem.
Here’s how to find exactly how much sleep you need, how to sleep better at night and get better sleep, and look younger in the process.
7 to 9 Hours for Adults
The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person. Without seeing a sleep specialist to find your exact number, you should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
If you’re getting seven and still waking up exhausted, aim for 9 hours for a few weeks and see if that improves your mood. If it does, consider cutting back to help you fine-tune the exact amount you need.
Sleep Cycles Have Valuable History
But younger generations and older generations have different sleep requirements too. Back in tribal days, this played a vital evolutionary role.
Teenagers who liked to stay up late were there to guard the fire, and by the time they were ready to sleep, the elderly in the tribe was up.
This meant there was always someone keeping an eye on the fire and on the dangers of the night to protect the rest of the tribe.
Unfortunately, today, this causes a lot of trouble, especially for teens who like to stay up late, then need to get to class by 8 am. Staying up late and sleeping late is a much more natural cycle for teens, and they need close to 9 hours of sleep every night.
On the other hand, elders still need an average of 7 hours of sleep. But they tend to fall asleep earlier and get up before anyone else in the house.
Quality Matters as Much as Quantity
You’ve probably heard before that there are 4 unique sections of your sleep cycle. Most of the hard lifting of restful sleep is accomplished in REM sleep.
When test subjects were regularly awoken during REM sleep, they were more irritable and less well-rested. So how much REM sleep do you need?
You need about 3-5 cycles through REM sleep every night. If you’re sleeping soundly for a full 7-8 hours, you’ll get the REM you need.
But if you keep waking up throughout the night, it could be disturbing your REM.
Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Palace
To ensure you’re getting the REM sleep you need, you should prioritize making your bedroom a great place to sleep.
Limit light in your room. If you have an alarm clock, make sure the numbers aren’t too bright or make sure you can cover the light from the numbers. Get blackout curtains to block streetlight or moonlight, and keep electronics out of the bedroom.
Fill your room with restful sounds, or better yet, silence. If you live in a busy urban area, you can’t control the sounds going on outside your window. But you can play white noise. Get a white noise machine, download a white noise app, or play white noise videos off YouTube – just make sure they don’t have commercials.
Canceling out the noises around you will make it harder for random noises throughout the night to wake you.
Make sure your bed is comfy. Invest in a good mattress and good sheets. A comfortable bed will help you get the restful sleep you deserve.
Get Better Sleep With a Pre-Sleep Routine
If it’s hard for you to get to sleep, you’ll likely benefit from a wind-down routine. Take melatonin, journal, and do things that relax you.
Practicing a pre-sleep routine trains your body to expect to go to sleep. This in turn teaches your body its time to wind down and helps you get to sleep faster.
Practices like journaling and meditation help clear lingering thoughts from your head so they don’t keep you up all night.
Lack of Sleep Might Not Be Causing Brain Fog
If you feel like you’ve got brain fog all day, you’re likely to blame a lack of sleep or not enough caffeine. But if you think you’re getting enough high-quality sleep, and you still have brain fog, sleep might not be the problem.
It’s worthwhile to see a sleep specialist to see if there are underlying problems you aren’t aware of. But it’s also worthwhile to look at other areas of your life, such as your diet and exercise routine.
Certain food intolerances can cause brain fog, as can processed foods and added sugar. Consider an elimination diet and see if you can spot any foods that are making you feel worse.
Also, make sure you’re getting enough exercise. Even a 20 minute walk a day will help.
Lack of Sleep Might Not Be What’s Making You Look Tired
Do you ever feel like you look tired all the time? It might not be a lack of sleep that’s causing the problem. You could be dehydrated, or you could have damage to your skin that’s causing a tired look.
If you know you’re getting enough sleep, make sure you’re drinking enough water, and you’re protecting your skin.
How Much Sleep Do I Need Isn’t Always the Right Question
Figuring out how much sleep do I need is a smart place to start, and it’s vital to understand that sleep is essential to your health. It’s not a place you should be trying to cut back on.
But how much isn’t always the most important question either. Shooting to get a minimum amount of sleep won’t help if you’re not drinking enough water, if you sleep poorly, or if you just have bags under your eyes.
So remember, getting enough sleep isn’t the only thing to consider.
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How Much Sleep Do I Need? A Definitive Guide
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