GETTING enough shuteye is a constant battle -from drinking one coffee too many to counting sheep at night.
It doesn’t help that most of us have no idea how much sleep we should really be getting since the ideal amount varies from person to person.
Sleep expert Lisa Artis says the quality of your sleep is more important than quantityCredit: Getty
Sleep powers the mind and restores the body, but how much sleep do we really need to get the maximum benefits?
Deciding how much sleep you need depends on your overall health, daily activities, and typical sleep patterns.
But don’t worry as we’ve spoken to an expert to find out how much sleep you need – as well as what signs to look out for that you’re not getting enough time in the land of nod.
Lisa Artis, Deputy CEO of The Sleep Charity revealed there is no “magic number” for the amount of sleep we need – but seven to eight hours is recommended.
She said: “While there is no magic number for how much sleep we should get, there is a general consensus that around seven to eight hours is best.
“Experts believe that most adults require somewhere between six and nine hours in order to feel refreshed and to function well both mentally and physically.
“However it’s important not to get too hung up on your sleep quantity but focus on sleep quality instead.
“For example, it’s better to get six hours of uninterrupted sleep than eight hours of disturbed sleep.”
It’s important not to get too hung up on your sleep quantity but focus on sleep quality instead.
The expert from The Sleep Charity, which focuses on empowering the nation to sleep better, also explained that everyone’s requirements for sleep are different.
The deputy CEO said some of us cope far better on less sleep than others while others need more sleep.
It is based on individual factors such as age, activity levels and health etc.
Lisa added: “The best way to ascertain if you’re getting enough sleep is to look at how you feel the next day.
If you’re still feeling tired around 11am, then you’re probably not getting enough sleepCredit: Getty
“If by 10/11am you’re still feeling tired and are fuelling yourself with caffeine to get through the morning, then chances are you’re not sleeping well.
“If you feel productive and happy, then chances are you are sleeping just fine.”
Lisa explained that research does show that regularly sleeping less than six hours is associated with many of the adverse effects of sleep deprivation.
She suggested if you do find yourself regularly getting less than six hours a night and are exhausted the next day, then it might be time to overhaul your sleep and lifestyle habits.
SIGNS YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Lisa said there’s multiple signs to look out for that show you’re not getting enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation, also known as insufficient sleep or sleeplessness, is the condition of not having enough sleep. It can be either chronic or acute and may vary widely in severity.
Lisa explained: “You may start to notice some signs of sleep deprivation. Just one night of interrupted sleep negatively affects mood, attention span and cognitive ability.
“But an occasional night where sleep is disturbed won’t harm your health – you’ll just be tired the next day, and grumpier!”
Signs of sleep deprivation can affect…
HOW YOU LOOK
- Puffy eyes
- Dark circles
- Dull skin
- Weight gain
HOW YOU FEEL
HOW YOU BEHAVE
- Yawning a lot
- Eating more
- Craving caffeine
HOW YOU THINK
HOW YOU PERFORM
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lacking motivation.
But Lisa added that chronic sleep debt, however, can have a seriously damaging effect on our mental and physical health.
She said: “Regular poor sleep also puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy.
“Lack of sleep can increase insulin resistance, a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“Shortened sleep can increase CRP, or C-reactive protein, which is released with stress and inflammation.”
The deputy CEO of The Sleep Charity discussed how studies have suggested people who usually sleep less than five hours a night have an increased risk of having or developing diabetes.
Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed and find alternative ways of relaxing like warm baths with calming scents, quiet soothing music, reading, gentle stretching and yoga – these will help with any sleep issues associated with worry and stress.
It seems that missing out on deep sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by changing the way the body processes glucose – the high-energy carbohydrate that cells use for fuel.
Lack of sleep also suppresses your immune system making you more vulnerable to infections and metabolic and hormone changes.
Research has found that getting a good night’s sleep strengthens the immune response suggesting that the release of certain hormones during sleep boosts the immune system.
HOW TO KEEP SLEEP ON TRACK
Lisa said that to ensure you experience good sleep, it’s essential to follow good lifestyle habits and to eliminate the factors that are causing you disturbed sleep.
She advised: “Making sure that your bedroom is the right environment (cool, dark and quiet), that your bed is up to scratch and looking at the lighting in your home is important.
“It’s also important to assess your diet and exercise – so avoid foods and drinks that can hinder sleep.
“And make time to exercise, as not only does it improve physical health and mental health but it’s great for promoting deeper sleep.
“Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed and find alternative ways of relaxing like warm baths with calming scents, quiet soothing music, reading, gentle stretching and yoga – these will help with any sleep issues associated with worry and stress.”
She added that it’s also important to establish a regular sleep pattern – going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time as your body and mind will feel much better for it.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE LYING AWAKE AND CAN’T SLEEP?
If you wake in the night and can’t sleep, you can practise some deep breathing or relaxation exercises to help you de-stress and fall back asleep, suggested Lisa.
She said if you haven’t fallen asleep within 30 minutes, it’s important to get up and leave the bedroom.
She added: “Go to another room in the house and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
“Tossing and turning in bed trying to sleep causes unhelpful sleep associations – you want to associate the bedroom with a place for going to sleep, not for keeping you awake!”
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