The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7-9 hours of sleep for adults both young and old. In today’s fast paced world, it’s easy to scoff at the idea of getting 7-9 hours of sleep on a regular basis. With so many other priorities in our lives, we tend to sacrifice precious hours of sleep in order to get more done in a day.
Whether you realize it or not, giving up a few hours of shut-eye each night to fit more into your day will result in you not getting things done to the best of your ability. There’s a difference between functioning optimally and merely functioning. When answering the question “how much sleep do we really need?”, there’s a great difference between how much the human body can get by on and how much we need to feel our best.
Sure, with the help of a little caffeine you can probably get by on 4-5 hours of sleep, but the truth is you’re not doing yourself any favors. Do you want to just “get by” from day-to-day, or do you want to take control of each day feeling happy, healthy, and productive?
Lack of sleep affects your ability to solve problems and make good decisions, resulting in you being less effective at work. It can affect your personal and professional life by making you more irritable and less capable of coping with stress. Above all it can adversely affect your physical health, which is never something to take for granted.
In the short term, lack of sleep can weaken your immune system making you more susceptible to colds and other illnesses. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of serious health problems. This can include stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and certain types of cancer.
Eventually, getting by on minimal sleep is going to catch up to you and you’ll start feeling the effects of sleep deprivation. In addition, those around you will be affected by your sleep habits (or lack thereof).
“How much sleep do we really need” is a question with an answer that varies slightly from person to person. It’s not as important to increase the amount of hours you spend in bed, what’s important is to improve the quality of sleep you’re getting.
First, begin by assessing your own individual needs. This can be determined by how you feel when you wake up and how you feel throughout the day. If, after a full night of sleep, you still wake up feeling tired and that extends into your day, it’s time to take some steps to improve your quality of sleep.
Here are a few general guidelines:
Getting more sleep with the help of SleepPhones®: The above are basic tips and guidelines. With a pair of SleepPhones®, you can utilize more advanced strategies that we have shared in some of our previous articles:
It also helps to keep a sleep journal. After making the necessary lifestyle adjustments, or attempting one of the strategies listed above, record how you feel after waking up in the morning while it’s still fresh in your mind. Once you have found the techniques and the amount of hours of sleep that work best for you personally, then you have answered the question “how much sleep do we really need?”