How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition & Job Search Coach | Certified Sleep Science Coach
Considering that we spend one-third of our lives asleep, knowing how much sleep you need is good to know.
In March 2015, the National Sleep Foundation came up with some guidelines on how much sleep that people of different ages should be getting.
The recommendations were for healthy people with "normal" sleep patterns. So, for example, the appropriate duration of sleep for a newborn is 14-17 hours. Teenagers, on the other hand, are fine with 8–10 hours. Young adults and middle-aged adults should be aiming for 7-9 hours per night, and older adults should try to get 7–8 hours of sleep. Although the duration of sleep varies by age, there is a similarity amongst age groups.
The truth is that sleep is complex and multifaceted. The specific amount of sleep that you have probably heard recommended for most adults is “about eight hours.” Although the National Sleep Foundation came out with these guidelines, some people who work in the field still advocate a more common-sense approach to determining how much sleep you need.
How much sleep you need depends a lot of variables like your specific lifestyle, your job, and your individual stress. For me or anyone else to say exactly how much sleep you need would be like you trying to determine how many calories the stranger across the street should be consuming every day without you knowing if she exercises, if she is muscle building, or if she is pregnant.
With that in mind, it makes more sense to monitor how you feel, and determine what sleep duration is best for you. You can track things like:
How long does it take you to fall asleep? – If you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, then you may need more sleep. If it takes you a long time to fall asleep, then perhaps you are sleeping too much.
Does your body wake up before your alarm? – Your body knows when it is time to wake up. Your internal clock is much wiser than any alarm clock will ever be.
How do you feel during the day? – If you are struggling to keep your eyes open, then you may need more sleep. If you are able to stay awake and alert, then the amount of sleep you got is probably fine.
By monitoring these things, it can help you adjust your schedule accordingly so that you get the desired amount of sleep you need.
The bottom line is that sleep is as critical to your health and wellbeing as your nutrition and exercise levels. You just can't function at your optimum level if you are tired all the time.
To learn more about how to get the sleep you need and what sort of adjustments you may need to make at home to guarantee that you get the sleep your body requires, buy my new ebook, Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health.
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