Like you, I have required sleep every day of my life. But the question arises, how much sleep do you require to be happy, healthy, and most productive. This is more complicated than you might image. Even the “Sleep experts” have difficulty agreeing because this is such a complicated question. There is a great deal of good information about sleep and how much you may require at the “Sleep Foundation’s” website at http://www.sleepfoundation.org/
Since everyone has different lifestyles, health backgrounds, ages, and living environments the understanding regarding your specific requirements for sleep gets difficult. Experts do agree that babies and young children require more sleep that most adults. The chart below comes from National Sleep Foundation.
As you can see, this may not fit for many of us who get less than 7 hours of sleep due to choice or lifestyle. There is also research that suggests that too much sleep can have negative impacts for many people as well. The “quality” of your sleep will also be a factor in the duration that you require for sleep. The quality of sleep will be discussed in another blog as well as tips for getting the best sleep.
In a recent article in Newsweek, researchers reported that sleep loss has tremendous cognitive consequences: Dozens of studies have connected lack of sleep to deficits ranging from poor insight formation to diminished working memory.
We need to understand our own body’s requirements for sleep to determine the best length for our best health. If you wake tired, you can assume that you are not getting enough “quality” sleep. Reduced sleep can lead to low energy, poor concentration and reduced productivity, possible depression, weight gain, and a variety of more serious health challenges, including heart disease. Too much sleep can lead to accidents, illnesses, and even death as reported by sleep researchers. The “right” amount of sleep will vary for you and is affected by what your environment and life changes can do to your physical and emotional health & well-being. Changing work schedules (or activities like classes) can be factors that need to be considered in your need for sleep and need to be taken into account as you determine how much sleep you require. Also, talk to your doctor about how medications, diet, and especially caffeine can be affecting you and your requirements for sleep.
Please try to get 7-9 hours of sleep, if you are an adult, of good quality sleep and do not rely on medication or stimulants to “keep you going” except in the occasional, brief periods. Even though sleep may seem like a “waste of time” to many “busy” people, the proper amount of good rest and sleep will actually save you time and energy and allow for higher levels of productivity in the long run.
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go study the inside of my eyelids. In future blogs this month, I will be sharing some of the best techniques that I have used for myself and with my clients to get the best quality of deep sleep. Since each of us is different, you may need to try several different techniques until you find the best ones that will work for you. Until then, please take good care of yourself and find the time for enough rest and good sleep.
I am L. John Mason, Ph.D. and I founded the Stress Education Center (www.dstress.com) in 1978.
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