It gets to three in the afternoon and you find yourself looking at the clock yawning wishing you didn’t watch that extra episode on Netflix last night and instead went to sleep a little earlier.
We’ve all been there, keeping ourselves up the night before only to find that we’re exhausted for the days to come.
But how much sleep do we actually need?
We know that getting good nights sleep is important, but not many people will be able to say that they get the recommended amount each night. Sleep is a necessity with the quality of your sleep affecting the quality of your productivity, physical vitality and emotional balance when you’re awake. Sacrificing an hour here and there may sound like a good idea at the time however will in turn effect your mood, energy, ability to handle stress and your mental alertness.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night while teenagers need at least 8-9 hours per night. Going to bed at a reasonable hour like 11pm is recommended to get the full amount of sleep that is necessary for your body and brain to fully recharge.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute explains that while you sleep your body is working to help support brain function and to maintain physical health. Ongoing sleep deficiency can raise chronic health problems as well as well as affecting the way you speak, think, react and process information meaning you’ll be more lethargic and out of energy instead of the opposite when you wake up.
While you sleep your body is helping you to recover from all the damage that occurred during the day by performing body maintenance and keeping it running in top condition. Your brain creates new pathways to collect information that you will learn in the day ahead and consolidates information that you learnt during the day.
Sleep also plays a role in physical health as it’s one of the reasons you are energised and ready to go in the morning when you wake up. Sleep is involved in healing and repairing damaged blood and heart vessels while also maintaining a healthy hormonal balance. The hormones that it controls are the ones that make you feel hungry or full.
How do I make sure I’m getting enough sleep?
It is easy to implement certain things that will help you improve your sleep habits. Here are 3 ways you can make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night.
- Set a time to go to bed. I know this one sounds basic but it really works. If you say you’re going to bed at 11pm every night, stick to it. This means if you’re out, make sure you leave with enough time to be home by 10:45pm or if you’re watching television until 11pm brush your teeth and change into pyjamas during commercials so that you’re ready for bed when the clock strikes eleven.
- Cut out electronics. No I don’t mean from your entire life, just the hour before you go to bed. This means no mobile, television or computer screens. Also try avoiding using harsh bright lights as this may indicate to the brain that it’s time to wake up when in fact you are going for the opposite. Try swapping Netflix for reading a book and see if you’re able to relax into sleeping a little easier.
- Don’t eat so close to sleeping. Try to avoid heavy meals right before going to bed. Make sure to leave enough time for them to be digested before attempting to sleep. Also try drinking a warm herbal tea before bed as it acts as a relaxing stimulus and helps to calm the body.