How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Mar 20 2017 Read 1416 Times

Sleep. We all do it. But it seems that there are a lot of people who just don’t get enough. In fact, a third of us suffer from sleep deprivation when – ironically – human beings are designed to spend nearly one-third of our lifetime sleeping! So, this begs the question, when it comes to getting the right amount of sleep, how much is truly enough? And, if you are struggling to make the full quota, what can you do about it?

Why is sleep important?

When you’re having to clamber to meet the demands of a busy timetable, cutting back on sleep may seem like the only solution. In these circumstances, sacrificing an hour of rest here or there may sound like a rational trade-off.

But the reality is that even nominal sleep loss can take a toll on our mood, physiological functionality, work ethic and memory. Furthermore, it can significantly reduce our ability to handle stress and – in the long-term – chronic sleep loss can inflict chaos on your overall health and wellbeing.

The perfect amount

So, what’s the magic number when it comes to the ideal amount of sleep? It is widely documented that the average person needs between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. But, according to the latest sleep recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, sleep needs actually fluctuate across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and general wellbeing.

To determine how much sleep you need, it's important to look at what lifestyle factors are negatively affecting the quality or quantity of your sleep, such as work agendas and stress. In a nutshell, you need to look at the bigger picture of your daily life. Only then can specific, tailor made steps be identified that can lead you forward to achieving that all important sleep/awake balance.

How to improve your chance of a good night’s sleep

It’s acknowledged that sleep needs vary from person to person, but there are some general rules of thumb that can be applied to help assist sleep:

  • Exercise can help work out stress and relieve anxiety, as well as tiring you out before bedtime.
  • Limit the intake of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before you go to bed. These act as stimulants and can stop you from falling asleep easily.
  • Make a list. If you are struggling to fall asleep because you are worrying about a problem. Keeping a notepad by your bed is a good idea so you can jot down your thoughts or worries.
  • Get as much natural sunlight as possible throughout the day. But if you can't consistently expose yourself to outdoor light, you could try phototherapy with artificial light
  • Make time for relaxing activities before sleep. Reading, meditation and listening music are all known to naturally relax the mind and induce sleep.

The importance of amino acids

As well as lifestyle, there are some chemicals necessary for sleep. One which has often been linked to regular sleeping patterns is tryptophan. It helps your body turn serotonin into melatonin – which is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. For more information on amino acid analysis and how it is developing, check out the article ‘Traditional Amino Acid Analysis. What has Changed?’.

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