When you think of the critical things we need to survive, food, water, and air probably pop up. Does sleep make that list? If not, it absolutely should.
Getting the right amount of sleep isn't just a nifty way of getting through a morning meeting without yawning.
It's responsible for your entire mind and body operating correctly.
When you want to know how to find out how much sleep you need, unfortunately, the answer isn't black and white.
If you want to learn why getting the right amount of sleep is vital and how you can work out how much you need, you're in the right place.
Keep reading to get on track with your sleep and wake up fresh.
Why Sleep Is so Important for Your Health
Life is tiring. We're not even talking about the stresses and strains on our emotions either yet, life is tiring for our bodies.
Throughout the day your body is running through many processes, regulating your temperature, breaking down foods, and fighting off invaders. It's doing all this while you indulge in a little too much coffee and don't quite make your 5-a-day.
The truth is, your body has its work cut out already. At night, it needs you to do one thing. No, not Netflix. Not planning your next day's to-do list. Not shopping for yet another baby shower.
It needs you to sleep.
Sleep is the center point of your overall health and without it, things fall apart.
When you fall asleep, your body shifts into repair mode. Your immune system produces cytokines, proteins that play several roles in the body, one being fighting infection and inflammation.
When you don't get enough sleep, the production of cytokines can reduce. This is one of the reasons why sleep deprivation increases your chance of getting ill and slows down recovery.
It doesn't take long for your focus, concentration, and alertness to fall when you're tired. This is why you might stumble over words and struggle to remember things late in the evening or early in the morning.
Reaction time, decision-making, cognitive performance, and mood all suffer from the partial sleep restriction many of us experience every day.
Good sleep is essential for many reasons but one is its ability to reduce stress.
When you don't get enough sleep, your sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) is chronically switched on. This keeps you in a state of stress, both physically and mentally.
High-quality sleep allows your body to revert to the parasympathetic system, which is your body's rest and recover mode. This calms your mind and reduces your stress levels, allowing you to feel rested and cope better.
Signs You're Not Getting Enough Sleep
70% of Americans report that they don't get enough sleep at least one day a month, with many having insufficient sleep more regularly. With so many people not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, we've become normalized to the signs of sleep deprivation.
Signs of insufficient sleep include:
- General tiredness
- Brain fog
- Difficulty learning new things
- Dull skin
- Puffy eyes
Long-term lack of high-quality sleep also increases your risk of weight gain and obesity.
How to Find out How Much Sleep You Need
Our sleep needs change as we age and go through difficult physical stages. They're also dependent on our daily activity, our state of health, and other factors. This makes it impossible to put a perfect time on how much sleep you need.
There are guidelines though and no matter how many famous entrepreneurs say they only sleep 4 hours a night, following these guidelines is a safer option.
In general, adults need around 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. You may need more if you're sick and the important thing is to listen to your body.
Older adults need the same amount of sleep but tend to get less good-quality sleep at night. If your elderly parents keep dropping off in the day, they might be struggling to sleep at night.
Teenagers aren't as lazy as we all think they are. They actually need more sleep than adults and have naturally different sleep rhythms that keep them sleeping later in the morning than society wants.
Teenagers need around 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
School-age children are growing every day, use a lot of mental energy, and (hopefully) spend a lot of time on their feet too. This means they usually need around 9-12 hours of sleep a night.
Children aged 3-5 need around 10-13 hours of sleep per 24 hours. This time includes naps, so they don't necessarily need that much each night.
Learning to walk is tricky business and these tiny children need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep in each 24 hour period, including nap times.
Infants under 12 months old need 12-16 hours of sleep. Of course, this includes nap times and babies will fall asleep when and where they fancy.
How to Get More Sleep
Getting enough sleep is vital if you want to stay healthy and get the most out of your life. As we feel pressured to work harder and achieve more though, it can be hard to fit it in.
To get more sleep, you first need to make it a personal priority. Making a commitment to take care of your health is a powerful step.
Switching off screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime can prevent blue light from disrupting your sleep quality and sticking to the same bedtime every night will help train your mind to fall asleep.
Ensuring you're comfortable while you sleep can have a dramatic effect on how much sleep you get as well. Choosing a comfortable mattress might be all you need to relax and drop off.
Prioritize Sleep and Feel the Benefits
If you're lacking energy, focus or have low moods, you might not be getting enough sleep. If you want to know how to find out how much sleep you need, looking at your age and activity levels is where to begin.
Making a commitment to prioritize your sleep can help you switch off the screens and go to bed at a good time each night.
To get the recommended 7 to 8 hours as an adult, you might need to go to bed earlier than you're used to.
The best way to pin down the perfect amount of sleep is to listen to your body.
If you're tossing and turning on an uncomfortable mattress or pillow, your sleep quality will suffer. Investing in excellent bedding is investing in your personal health and that of your family.
Check out our luxury bedding options to create your perfect sleep environment.