How many hours of sleep do you need to stay healthy?
A lot of people are of the belief that five to six hours are enough. Though millions subscribe to this kind of sleeping pattern as the best, you need more hours of sleep.
Research reveals that the normal adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep for optimal function. Even so, we find it hard to get enough sleep whether by choice or by design.
We have too many responsibilities in all facets of our lives, thus needing to get hold of any extra time we can get. Inadequate sleep has become so much of the norm that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed insufficient sleep as a public health problem.
Plenty of research has gone into establishing the importance of sleep in our lives, linking sleep deficiency to conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
In addition to these, research by the University of Pittsburgh shows that sleep deprivation also affects the immune system, reaction time, brain function and sensitivity to pain. How much sleep is enough sleep? The National Sleep Foundation’s sleep recommendations clearly show how much sleep you should be getting at every age.
Young adults of the ages between 18 and 25 and adults aged 26 to 64 years require seven to nine hours of sleep, and shouldn’t go below six hours. The longest adults should sleep 10 hours and not more while young adults can sleep for 11 hours at most. Older adults of 65 years and older should have seven to eight hours but should not exceed nine hours or sleep for less than five hours.
The recommendations go on defining how much nap time children should get as well.
What’s the quality of your sleep?
Statistics from the National Sleep Foundation show that more than one-third of Americans don’t think they have a quality sleep.
When asked about the quality of their sleep, they rated it “fair” or “poor.” What metrics would you use to gauge whether you had a good quality sleep?
Sleep experts have given some of the characteristics of good sleep to be; ·Remaining asleep for 85% of the time you are in bed ·Sleeping within 30 minutes of getting to bed ·
Waking up for less than five minutes at least once a night Though these are as close as can be to a good night’s sleep, researchers admit that it is not as straightforward. Since it is a subjective experience, different people may have different definitions of what they consider quality sleep.
Bad quality sleep Often, your body lets you know when you have been deprived of sleep, but most people are unable to tell based on the kind of night they had.
Some qualities that show you have poor sleep quality include; ·Taking longer than an hour to fall asleep ·Having sleep disruptions on four or more occasions ·Sleeping for less than 74% of the time you spend in bed ·
Staying awake for over 41 minutes when you go to bed Sleep, and weight loss Studies have shown that too much sleep is bad for your metabolism.
Too little sleep also has negative ramifications.
A study reported by WebMD showed that when subjects gradually reduced their sleeping hours over a 2-week period, the amount of fat they were losing dropped by a scary 55% even though there was no change in diet.
This is because when you have little sleep, your metabolic processes are dramatically affected. Getting better quality sleep We know a lot about the dangers of not sleeping enough, but do we have ways of making things better?
There are ways and means through which even the worst sleepers can improve their sleeping patterns and get the most out of their sleep. In most cases, it doesn’t take much; a few changes in the routine will do the trick. To do it successfully though, you need to find the underlying causes for your lack of sleep.
Almost half of the cases of insomnia are due to emotional or psychological issues. Anxiety disorder or some mild depression can be the reason you are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Once these issues are dealt with, your sleep quality improves. Here are ways to go about improving your sleeping patterns and sleep quality;
- Reconditioning One of the steps to sleeping well is reconditioning the mind so that it does not associate the bed with the frustration of trying to go to sleep. One way is to use the bed only when you need to. Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep; move to a different room and do something that will relax you.
2. Restricting sleep To restrict sleep, you have to fight the habit of staying in bed too long hoping that you will fall asleep.
This is one way of associating the bedroom with sleep. The mind begins to anticipate sleep as soon as you walk into your bedroom.
3. Try some relaxation techniques Sometimes, physical tension is the reason you are unable to fall asleep. It is not easy to just get in bed and sleep when your mind is racing.
There are workable techniques that can calm a racing mind including meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises and biofeedback.
4. Cognitive behavioural therapy The therapy works for people suffering from insomnia, helping them to get rid of the negative thoughts about the condition.
It is easy to become obsessed with the condition when you are suffering from insomnia and the consequences of not being able to sleep well.
This worry engulfs the person and makes it virtually impossible to fall asleep. This therapy is based on the principle that the person sets realistic goals and discards negative thoughts that can restrict sleep.
The Best Foods that help you sleep
Aside from your normal pattern before going to bed, your diet might need some changes to encourage better sleep. Researchers have come up with a list of foods that can help deal with the most protracted bouts of insomnia.
Some of these include foods with functional components such as L-ornithine, calcium, melatonin, potassium, tryptophan, pyridoxine and hexadecanoic acid. However, foods with components such as acetylcholine, noradrenaline, orexin, histamine, serotonin and such neurochemical factors promote staying awake.
Foods such as kiwifruit, lettuce, maca, whole grains, barley grass powder, walnut and Lingzhi are vital to the insomniac’s diet as they promote sleep.
The molecular mechanisms of the right diet for sleep may need further research to find better solutions. However, the connection between what we eat and how well we sleep has already been established.
There are many techniques out there that promise to change your nights. However, a majority of people are still unable to capitalize on their nap time.
It is important though that we take our sleep deprivation seriously and do something towards dealing with our sleeping disorders for better health.
Remember, when you deal with your sleeping problems, it becomes possible to initiate natural health benefits that will benefit you in the long run.
Comment below and share how much sleep you get each night?