How Much Sleep is Really Enough?
Blogpost by: Michele McDaniel, Unyts Volunteer
With busy and ever-changing schedules, especially during busy times such as the holidays, it can be difficult to feel as though you’re getting “enough” sleep. However, have you ever asked yourself the questions, “How much sleep is really enough for me?” or “How do my sleep needs differ from those of my family?” The answers to these questions are important to ensuring a healthy sleep cycle and preventing side-effects of sleep deprivation which include increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, increased risk of diabetes and heart problems, and increased risk for psychiatric conditions such as depression. There are also serious health issues that may be associated with habitually sleeping longer than needed (9 hours or more for adults).
A healthy sleep cycle does not mean the same thing for everyone, though. Sleep needs can differ depending on activity level and age, and though doctors can’t give an exact number, they do have some “rule-of-thumb” ranges to help you understand what your family needs to stay well rested:
Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation to get enough sleep:
- Try to stay on a rest-and-wake schedule, even on weekends
- Find a routine that helps you prepare for sleep, such as drinking some tea or taking a soothing bath
- Splurge on a comfy pillow, you spend a lot of time resting on it!
- keep “sleep stealers” out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed
- Exercise regularly and stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking
The most important thing is to listen to your body. Does spicy food give you heartburn that keeps you awake? Does your last coffee have to be before 3pm to ensure you fall asleep with ease? Since sleep habits are personal, paying attention to these factors and responding as needed will ensure you have enough z’s in your life to stay happy and healthy!
Source: National Sleep Foundation
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