As a rule, most of us aren’t getting enough sleep. As a society, we’re addicted to coffee, and getting multiple shots of espresso to our Starbucks order is seen almost as a badge of honor.
So in a society that holds caffeine up as a god, how much sleep do you really need?
The amount of sleep you need is different for every person. But there are some general rules of thumb and some signs that you may not be getting enough sleep.
Read on to discover if you’re getting enough sleep and how to improve your sleep quality if not.
Why Sleep Is Important
Before we dive into how much sleep you need, let’s take a look at why sleep matters in the first place. To this day, scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why we have to sleep. Some think it may be an evolutionary defense to protect us from things that hunt at night; others say it’s the time when our brains rebuild themselves.
In any case, sleep is the time when our body rebuilds our muscles and processes events from the day. Sleep helps us to regulate our emotions and various systems in our body, including digestion and your immune system. Sleep also helps to regulate your circadian rhythms, patterns your body runs in that tell you when to eat, sleep, and run various bodily processes.
Requirements by Age
How much sleep a person needs will vary individual to individual. But overall, the biggest factor in how much sleep you need is your age. As a rule, the older you are, the less sleep you need.
Newborn babies may sleep as much as fourteen to seventeen hours a day, but by the time they’re four months old, that may have dropped to twelve to fifteen hours. Toddlers need between eleven and fourteen hours of sleep a day, and preschoolers need just ten to thirteen. School children should get between nine and eleven hours of sleep every night, and teenagers start getting into the eight- to ten-hour range.
Most adults need between seven and nine hours of good sleep a night to feel rested. But as we start to get to age 65 and older, we may need less than that.
Reading through that list, you may be saying, “But I know adults who do fine on six or seven hours of sleep!” Or you may be wondering why it is you don’t feel rested unless you’ve slept at least ten hours. As we said, sleep needs vary person to person, and a part of this depends on their genetics.
There are different genetic mutations that affect how we respond to different amounts of sleep. One may allow someone to function fine on six hours of sleep, while another may cause you to be more negatively impacted by a lack of sleep. So your friend may only need six hours every night, but if they don’t get that full six hours, they can’t function at all.
Another thing that could be impacting how much sleep you need is the quality of the sleep you’re getting. Yes, you might be lying in bed for eight or nine hours every night, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting good quality sleep during that time. So it may take you longer to get the amount of good rest you need.
There are a number of things that could be impacting the quality of the sleep you’re getting. Sleep apnea, for instance, can seriously decrease your quality of sleep without you even realizing it. But habits like having a drink before you go to bed in the evening could be disrupting your sleep patterns, too.
Signs of Inadequate Sleep
Many of us know when we aren’t getting enough sleep. We feel drowsy, have trouble focusing, may be more on edge, and find ourselves in a worse mood throughout the day. But there may be some subtler signs of sleep deprivation that we ignore or write off as normal.
If you have to set several alarms to get you up in the morning, you may not be getting enough rest. You may notice that you get drowsy throughout the day, especially after large meals or in warm, comfortable places. You may also fall asleep in the evenings or take naps when you get home or on the weekends.
Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
These signs of sleep deprivation may not seem like a big deal, but long-term sleep deprivation can have serious consequences. For one thing, because your body regulates your metabolism and digestive system while you sleep, too little sleep can cause you to gain weight. Your sex drive may also go down, and your relationship could suffer for it.
Over time, inadequate sleep will weaken your immune system, causing you to get sick more often. You also raise your risk for a variety of serious health conditions, including stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers. Driven to an extreme, a lack of sleep can cause hallucinations or even death.
How to Sleep Better
So aside from making sure you spend enough time in bed, how do you improve your sleep quality? One good option is to improve your sleep hygiene. This means that the only things you do in bed are sleep and have sex – no watching TV, reading the news, playing games on your phone, or certainly doing business.
You should also try to stick to a sleep schedule as best you can. Create a bedtime routine designed to relax you and get you in the right space to go to sleep. Make sure your room is dark, quiet, and comfortable, and minimize caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine right before you go to bed.
Answer, “How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?”
There is no one right answer to the question, “How much sleep do you really need?” Everyone is different, and you may need more or less sleep than the next person. But make sure if you notice any of the signs of inadequate sleep that you take steps to improve your sleep quality; it could be having a serious impact on your life.
If you’d like to start improving your sleep quality today, check out the rest of our site at Nest Bedding. We have mattresses and bedding to help you love where you sleep, nap, and snuggle. Shop our mattresses today to find the perfect bed to keep you resting easy all night long.