There’s a lot of speculation on how much one should sleep; experts peg the number at 6 hours for most adults and 8 hours for children. But many of us find it insufficient to have 6-8 hours of sleep. At other times, one can develop symptoms of sleep deprivation even though you wake up feeling fine. So, just how long exactly is one supposed to sleep?
There’s a lot one can try out to get a proper sleep. But to make things easier for you, let me tell you how your sleep requirements can change with various factors. So without further ado, here are some pointers to check if you’re sleeping enough.
1. Teens and toddlers need more sleep
In the first 17 years of life, an individual requires more than 8 hours of sleep. Toddlers and infants can need as many as 17 hours of sleep. If you’re under 17, 8 hours of sleep might not be resting you adequately.
This greater need of sleep can be explained by the fact that the brain in most individuals who are under 17 is still developing pretty intensely. Brain growth and development slows down by the time you’re around 20, after which point most neurological activity is aimed at maintaining brain capacity. In this period of growth, you need more sleep, since it is while asleep that our minds develop the most rapidly.
2. The more you’re stressed, the more sleep you need
Sleep is not just to rest the body but also to replenish the brain’s resources. This replenishment can mean transferring information from short term to long term memory, repairing tissue, replacing dead cells and flushing out toxins. Stress too is mitigated by sleep to a considerable extent.
When you’re stressed, the cocktail of hormones in your body promotes function so you can deliver results quickly. But having that cocktail hanging around the brain too long can desensitise it, while still causing you to expend energy, which can overall result you in shutting down when you’re under prolonged stress. It is important to have relief from the tensions life brings us.
If you cannot accommodate another hour of sleep into your routine, it is always a good idea to take short naps in the lunch break or after a stressful situation. If you don’t want to nap, meditation can be a good substitute.
3. Naps help you remember
The number one advise students need by seldom get is to sleep and rest their brains. A crucial activity your brain does during sleep is sort out important stuff to remember and junk the rest. This sorting and moving of information from short term to long term memory is what makes you remember things, be it stuff you need to remember for exams, your new phone number or the incidents you saw during the day. That is not to say you need to sleep in everyday before your exams; naps can work too.
4. Medication influences sleep
A lot of medication can need you to sleep it off. They aren’t commonly prescribed, but it never hurts to ask your doctor about any need to rest or sleep more than you usually do. It is not necessarily bad for your heal th either; the body can use some more rest in times of fighting off infections and diseases.
Mental illnesses too may manifest sleep related symptoms, such as grogginess, fatigue, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much. Relevant medication may be offered by your doctor for each of these. You can ask them about the proper amount of sleep you should aim for, and how to go about making changes to your lifestyle to facilitate better rest and faster recovery.
5. Some activities can require you to rest more
Not all activities are equally stressful. For example, driving requires much more concentration than watching TV. Reading a book on physics could require you to pay much more attention than reading a children’s story book. Depending upon how much stress you are exposed to, you need more sleep, as we discussed above. Plus, activities like driving can be very dangerous if done in a groggy, sleep deprived state.
How to sleep better and wake up refreshed each day?
A lot of people cannot extend how long they sleep every night, nor can they incorporate naps or meditation regimes, no matter how many benefits they have apart from resting your body and mind. The only option that remains therefore is to make the most out of the hours you have at night to rest yourself. Here are some tips to do so.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. It can be lucrative to stay in bed a few more hours on weekends, but you’re not doing yourself a favor by sleeping in. Get up and grab some breakfast, workout and get active. Getting up at the same time boosts energy levels, helps you keep a constant performance at school or at work, and gives your body and mind a structure to follow which can make daily activities easier while keeping stress low.
- Exercise daily. Even though it feels exercise is going to tire you out further and drain out more energy than you’d be happy to, give yourself an hour to do some pushups, jog a distance and lift some weights, according to your fitness levels. It’ll help you sleep deeper, iron out quite a few health-related wrinkles and build energy with time.
- Make sure you have a proper mattress, pillows and bedsheets. Mattresses like Memory Foam do last pretty long (I bet I’ve seen at least a few that have been around for 5 decades). But with time, they dent pretty significantly, suffer wears and tears, get smelly or can even get infested with bugs or mold! It can be a good idea to replace your mattress every 20 years. Pillows might need quicker replacement. For one, they absorb a lot more skin oil, sweat and saliva than the rest of the mattress. The hair we lose in our sleep too ends up on them, as does a lot of other stuff like dandruff. Flat pillows need to be fluffed back to a proper plumpness. Similarly, bed sheets need washing and old ones are better off replaced than used further. Buying a mattress is a good idea, but every so often, it is also useful to clean them further. Many pillows can be machine washed and fluffed back up.
Getting a healthy amount of sleep is not that difficult, really. There is no single critical time span for which one needs to be asleep, as long as one gets a good 6 hours every night. You can decide how long you need to sleep through the points we mentioned.