How Much Sleep is Enough?

You are busy. Every day takes energy and there is a lot to do. You make lists and check off tasks, feel a sense of accomplishment and sleepiness. Is sleep on your to-do list? Or, is sleep the thing you do once everything else is done, often short changing yourself?  Sleep is important for optimal health, safety, and just plain feeling good. So, if you are going to prioritize for sleep you need to know how much is enough. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so clear cut.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, individuals have different needs. Different stages of life also have different needs. Genes and temperament determine how much sleep a person needs, but there are parameters. For adults, 18 years and older, research seems to indicate that while one person may thrive on seven hours of sleep and another on nine hours, five hours is not enough and more than nine hours is too much.  Sleeping less than five hours can lead to health problems, obesity, and danger due to lack of wakefulness while driving.  Consistently sleeping more than nine hours and still feeling exhausted may mean you have some other underlaying health problem.

However, the National Sleep Foundation suggests that there is also a sort of “sleep bank.” If you have not had sufficient amounts of sleep, you may need to sleep more to catch up and pay off your “sleep debt.” Once you are caught up you maybe able to cut back on the amount of time you spend sleeping.

Some people may feel that sleeping is a waste of time, but the truth is you will be more productive with the time spent awake, if you are well rested. So, how do you get enough? Everyone has natural cycles of sleepiness and wakefulness. Determine the time at night when you feel naturally sleepy. Use this time to wind down and go to bed. If you like lists, the National Sleep Foundation suggests you write sleep down on your to-do list and cross it of right as you go to bed. If there are a few nights here and there when you can’t get enough sleep, do not become stressed about it. Remember the “sleep bank.” When you have time, you can take a nap, go to bed a little earlier the next night, or sleep in a little later.

Everyone’s needs are different, but everyone needs a good night of sleep. How much sleep do you need? What do you do to get a productive night of sleep?

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