We all want a perfect night’s rest… but to be honest, it’s tough to know how much that actually is!
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, and even when we DO get the “proper amount”, we can still wake up feeling tired.
On top of that, we’re constantly learning new things about sleep. For example, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recently performed a 2-year study on sleep – and they decided to change many of their recommendations as a result.
As such, today’s article is all about helping you demystify dreamland. We’ll answer the age-old question of how many hours you should get each night, plus recommendations on how to improve your sleep (even if you’re already getting enough). We’ll also challenge some common myths floating around the internet – so don’t sleep on this one!
First things first: How much sleep should you get?
Simply put, the answer to this question depends on your age and your individual body.
For years, the recommendation was to get 8 hours of sleep per night. However, this has changed. Sleep scientists now recommend “sleep ranges” – such as 8-10 hours for teens. This is because everyone sleeps differently. A “one-size-fits-all” approach simply doesn’t cut it.
These are the latest recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation:
Again, these are just guidelines. The best way to find out how much sleep you should be getting is to listen to your body. But how exactly do you do that? Let’s find out!
How do you know you’re getting restful sleep?
Since everyone is unique, it may take some time – and dedication – to figure out how much sleep YOU need. However, it really pays off when you have a sleep schedule that keeps you energetic and motivated all day!
The first step is to look for signs of poor sleep quality. These include sleepiness after you wake up, repeatedly waking up at night, and snoring or gasping for air during sleep.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your sleep probably isn’t restful sleep. That means it won’t matter how many hours you get – you’ll still wake up tired. In these cases, seeing a professional is the best option to diagnose any underlying issues.
If you don’t have any sleep problems, you can start testing your sleep schedule to see if you need more (or less). This has plenty of benefits, like increased energy, improved mood, clearer skin and more.
To do this, simply try changing your sleep schedule slightly until you feel great, day after day. The key is to be consistent. If you normally sleep for 7 hours, but you feel tired during the day, consider sleeping for an extra hour. However, you should do this for a period of at least two weeks to see how it impacts you. One or two days is not enough to figure out how much sleep your body needs!
Even better: once you find the right rhythm, you can also find the best times of day for certain activities!
We’ll offer some recommendations on getting more restful sleep soon – but before that, let’s cover a few common myths.
4 Common myths about sleep
Since sleep is so essential, it’s no wonder there are so many misconceptions out there. We’ll tackle a few quickly:
Myth #1: Getting an hour less sleep each night isn’t a big deal.
Fact: Even one hour can have an impact. Studies show that people react slower, can’t think properly and even experience cardiovascular issues when they sleep less than they’re used to. You may not notice it for one day, but it really adds up over time – and that leads us to our next myth…
Myth #2: You can sleep longer on the weekend to make up for lack of sleep during the week.
Fact: Sadly, our bodies simply don’t work this way. If you’ve got a busy week ahead of you, don’t plan on cutting out sleep to squeeze in a bit of extra productivity. Although it may help you make up for a bit of lost sleep (aka “sleep debt”), it won’t do as much as you hope… and the long-term side effects aren’t worth it. You’ll disrupt your circadian rhythm and may find it difficult to get to bed on Sunday. Then your whole schedule is off!
Myth: You can adjust to different sleep schedules very quickly.
Fact: While it’s possible to reset your “biological clock”, this ability is limited. It can take weeks to fully adjust to a new schedule… and that’s for a change of 1-2 hours. If you’re switching to the night shift or traveling across time zones, plan for some grogginess no matter what.
Myth: If you’re tired during the day, getting extra sleep can solve it.
Fact: The quality of your sleep is more important than the quantity. As we’ve noted, the number of hours is a rough guideline – but if you’re not sleeping well, figure that part out first.
This leads us to our final point: how to improve sleep quality, not just quantity.
How can you improve the quality of your sleep?
First things first: make sure your bedroom is an ideal sleep environment. This is rather simple, but not many people put conscious effort into it.
The three most important elements in a good sleep environment are silence, darkness and comfort. If your sleep environment doesn’t check off all three of these boxes, start there! Light, noise, and an uncomfortable bed (or room temperature) can make it difficult to sleep, AND they may impact the quality of your sleep.
Okay! Now that you have the proper sleep environment, here are some more tips to get the most out of your nightly ZZzzZs:
1. Don’t take drugs. While it may feel good and promote decent rest, taking sleeping pills is not the best way to go. Instead, try something natural – like Dodow, the drug-free sleeping aid that uses all-natural meditative techniques. It can put you to sleep in the blink of an eye – without causing any side effects!
2. Turn off electronic devices and screens. The light from these devices tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime, which means it won’t produce melatonin – the natural chemical that creates sleepiness. Experts recommend avoiding screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime.
3. Avoid the “3 sleep thieves” before bedtime: large meals, caffeine and alcohol. All three of these habits can disrupt the quality of your sleep, and caffeine can make it difficult to get there in the first place.
4. Keep your routine, even on weekends. When your body expects sleep, it comes much easier. Of course, you can occasionally have a “cheat day”, but it’s best to stick to a strict schedule as often as possible.
5. Get some exercise during the day. You don’t have to run a marathon before bed, but getting some movement each day can significantly improve your sleep habits – especially when it comes to falling asleep.
Alrighty, that does it for us. Bedtime is coming up, and we need to turn this screen off! Thanks for reading and see you next time!
P.S. if you have any questions about this topic or have ideas for a future article, let us know in the comment section below! We love hearing from you.