Most Americans are not getting the proper amount of sleep. Too many of us wake up tired and find ourselves relying too heavily on caffeine too often. These problems lead us to ask the question, “Am I getting enough sleep?” To answer this question, we must first know what enough sleep is? As with so many health questions, healthy sleep quantity depends on a number of factors including your age, the amount of sleep you are getting, the quality of sleep you are getting and your individual needs.
Many studies show that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. However, sleep experts reveal that there isn’t a magic number of hours you can sleep. This varies from person to person.
The two different factors that affect each person’s individual need for sleep are basal sleep need and sleep debt. Basal sleep need is the amount of time our bodies need for optimal performance. This number is affected on an individual basis by sleep debt, which is the accumulated sleep loss to environmental factors, illness, and insomnia. You will need to consider your needs individually and try out different lengths of sleep to determine what works best for you regarding healthy sleep.
What happens if we don’t meet our sleep needs? By not getting enough sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt. As stated above, sleep debt is the accumulated about of sleep loss that you eventually have to pay off to no longer feel tired. This might involve extra sleep by napping, going to bed early, or sleeping in to catch up. If you have a significant sleep debt, you may begin to experience several of the symptoms below.
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor thinking
- Increased risk of accidents
- And other more serious health complications
Tips for Better Sleep
How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep? You should be able to wake up feeling refreshed without the need for an alarm clock. If you need an alarm to wake up or you are relying on coffee to stay awake, you probably are not getting enough sleep. Try going to bed earlier by 15 minutes each night until you can wake up all on your own. Below are some ways to get better sleep at night.
- Reduce your caffeine.
- Develop a relaxation routine before going to bed.
- Exercise at least three hours before bed.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- If you nap, take no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do not use your bed for activities other than sleep.
- Develop a regular sleep schedule with consistent bedtimes and wake times.
If you are not getting enough sleep, you may be putting yourself at risk for health issues like depression, weight gain, and heart problems. Check out our blog Importance of Sleep to find out more.