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How Much Sleep Do I Need?

How-Much-Sleep-Do-You-Need

Sleep, the bodily phenomenon that every living creature experiences, is one of our most vital requirements, second only to food. Sleep is as normal to us as breathing, and we often don’t spare much thought for it. For most people, nighttime is meant for sleep. For some, nighttime is when they work, and daytime is when they sleep. But regardless of when you sleep, what’s most important is getting the proper amount of sleep.

However, what exactly constitutes “proper” when it comes to the amount of sleep we need? Although the general rule is that every grown human needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, most people often get far less than that. Sparing eight long hours for sleep is the kind of time no one has in this busy world. Almost everyone would be ready to sacrifice sleep in order to get more important work done. And those who still want to spare long hours for sleep on any given day are called “lazy.”

There is a curious thing about sleep. When we feel hungry, we eat. But when we feel sleepy, we try to keep sleep away by drinking coffee. This goes on to show that sleep fails to get the kind of importance that hunger does. Even though research has proved several times that lack of sleep is detrimental to health, not many get the required amount of sleep necessary. It’s no wonder that sleep disorders and sleep deficiency are on the rise around the world.

Do You Need 8 Hours of Sleep?

Most people who sleep less than 8 hours a night believe that the number of hours they sleep is sufficient for them. There are people who have never slept more than 5 or 6 hours and believe they need no more than that. And then there are those who are always sleepy and ten hours are barely sufficient. The amount of sleep people get is mostly dependent on how sleepy they feel.

This isn’t how it should be, though. Research has found that all adults need 7 or more hours of sleep. Some people sleep only for 5 or 6 hours and claim to feel fresh and alert, but according to a study by the University of California, only 3 percent of the global population has the gene that allows them to get by with 6 or fewer hours of sleep. Everyone else needs 7 or more hours.

Importance of Deep Sleep and REM Sleep

Sleep consists of a cycle that’s made up of four different stages. Each sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, and in an 8-hour sleep, there are four to five complete sleep cycles. Among the four stages of a sleep cycle, there are two that are most significant: deep sleep and REM sleep.

Deep sleep is when the energy reserves of our body get replenished, and we find the strength they feel awake and alert in the morning. The REM stage does something similar for the brain, boosting memory, cognition, and concentration. Without completing an entire sleep cycle, it is impossible to get a deep sleep or REM sleep. That is the reason why people who don’t get sufficient sleep feeling tired and fatigued all the time. Without deep sleep and REM sleep, both the body and the brain fail to recharge and replenish for the next day.

It is possible to ensure deeper sleep by avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and exposure to bright lights and noises during the night. When the quality of overall sleep improves, REM sleep automatically gets better. The more time you spend in REM sleep, the better it is for your health and cognition.

Signs of Sleep Deprivation

More often than not, we fail to realize that we are not getting sufficient sleep. But the body gives us clear signals to make us understand that we need more sleep. Unfortunately, most of us tend to ignore these signals because we are too busy getting work done.

Some of the most common signs that you are not getting enough sleep are:

  • Needing an alarm clock for waking up on time
  • Hitting the snooze button
  • Having a hard time getting up in the morning
  • Feeling sluggish during the day
  • Feeling sleepy at work, lectures, meetings
  • Getting drowsy when driving
  • Needing to nap during the day
  • Dozing off while relaxing or watching TV
  • Needing to sleep in during the weekend
  • Falling asleep within minutes of going to bed

Most signs of sleep deprivation are subtle, and most people ignore them. There is a negative stigma attached to sleep, which makes us think anyone who needs more sleep is lazy. But sleep is vital, and there’s nothing wrong with getting a little extra if that helps you get quality rest. Ignoring these signs for weeks and months leads to chronic sleep deprivation, and then you forget what it feels like to be fully awake all the time and full of energy.

Can Napping Make Up for Sleep Deprivation?

There is a big misconception that napping during the day can make up for lost sleep during the night. This isn’t true. Although napping for a few minutes during the day can be beneficial for getting a spurt of energy, it doesn’t do anything to make up for nighttime sleep. In fact, napping during the day can often make it hard to fall asleep at night.

Regardless of whether you nap during the day, you need sufficient nighttime sleep for the brain to perform its healing functions. Sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean getting a fixed number of hours; it means letting the brain and the body recharge and rejuvenate, which only happens at night. That’s the reason why sleeping at any other time during the day can not make up for nighttime sleep.

The amount of sleep that you need is best learned from your body. If sleeping for five hours leaves you tired but sleeping for eight hours rejuvenates you, then that’s what you need. It’s all about listening to your system and deciding what’s right for you.

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