Are you getting enough sleep?
First step on How to Improve Sleep Quality!
There is no set standard for the optimal number of hours a person should sleep.
It depends on your age, activity level and body type. Most adults need about eight hours of sleep. But some people get less than seven hours and are still quite functional. Others need at least nine hours of sleep to function well.
However, according to sleep specialists, people who get only six hours of sleep and don’t experience symptoms of sleepiness during the day are extremely rare.
How do you know if you’ve had enough sleep?
According to the experts at the American Sleep Foundation, getting enough sleep simply means being able to function until the end of the next day without feeling sleepy.
Here is an example given by Charles Morin, an expert on sleep problems, in his book Overcome the enemies of sleep : “Usually, a well-rested person will remain alert, even in an overheated room, while listening to an uninteresting lecture following a heavy meal.“
Another clue is that if you tend to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock in the morning, you probably didn’t get enough sleep.
Another way to find out your natural sleep needs is to calculate your average amount of time you sleep during the second week of your annual vacation.
For most people, this would be more than the usual amount of time…
|Age Groups||Hours per day|
|0 to 2 months||16,5 to 18,5|
|2 to 12 months||14 to 15|
|12 to 18 months||13 to 15|
|18 months to 3 years||12 to 14|
|3 to 5 years||11 to 13|
|5 to 12 years||9 to 11|
|Teenagers||8,5 to 9,5|
|Adults||7 to 9|
Can you sleep too much?
According to specialist Julie Carrier, no study has shown that sleeping long nights on a regular basis could have the slightest harmful effect.
Nevertheless, for several years, statistics have shown that sleeping little (less than seven hours) or a lot (more than eight hours) is correlated with a reduction in life expectancy.
However, according to recent studies, it would seem that it is not really the fact of sleeping a lot that is at fault.
Rather, it is other factors that long sleepers seem to share, such as fragmented sleep, greater fatigue, immune weakness, depressive tendencies or the prevalence of certain diseases.
A person who sleeps long hours should therefore not try to shorten his or her sleep hours, but simply take care of his or her health as best as possible, concludes Julie Carrier.
Early bird or night owl?
It now seems to be accepted that the tendency to be an early riser or a late sleeper is in our genes and linked to circadian rhythms. These rhythms depend directly on the internal biological clock.
It is possible, but only to a certain extent, to adjust one’s biological clock according to the constraints of life, such as the arrival of a child or a new work schedule.
Light therapy and melatonin, the sleep hormone can be used. But it is rare that people who naturally tend to be active and alert in the morning become real night owls. And vice versa.
It’s also good to know that the biological clock tends to change during adolescence. It is therefore normal for teenagers to want to go to bed later and stay in bed longer in the morning.
This would be a biological issue, not just a whim or a desire to keep the party going… In this context, various groups, particularly in the United States, are calling for classes to start later in the morning in order to respect the normal circadian rhythm of adolescents.
Sleep hygiene: Falling asleep and sleeping well
Whether they are psychologists, doctors, researchers, consultants or therapists, sleep experts agree on a dozen ways to facilitate both falling asleep and sleep quality.
Tips & Habits On How to Improve Sleep Quality
1. A bedroom dedicated exclusively to sleep and sex
The bedroom is a place for sleeping and sexual activities: no TV or computer, and don’t do schoolwork or office work in it.
The bedroom needs to be dark, quiet, inspiring and soothing.
Cool rather than hot: around 18°C. Don’t hesitate to sleep with the window open.
If there is too much noise in the room, you can install a fan. Its background noise will mask the other noises. Have a low intensity bedside lamp.
The bed should be comfortable by your own standards and supportive.
2. Routine and regularity
Before going to bed, try to wait until you are sleepy. If you are not tired, do something relaxing while you wait for sleep.
Try to get up at about the same time each morning, even on days off. This will help regulate your biological clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
Do not deprive yourself from the light in the morning.
3. Quietness before going to bed
Set up a bedtime ritual. Before going to bed, you can read (something light), listen to music, meditate, write in your journal, take a bath, etc.
It is important that, as much as possible, you keep the same routine night after night. Avoid bright lights.
Try to deal with your problems or put them aside temporarily before going to bed. This is not the time to worry. Anxiety is one of the biggest causes of insomnia.
Before you go to bed, this is not the time to pay bills or play an intense video game. Treat yourself to a stress buffer of about 30 minutes.
Exercise, if done regularly, makes it easier to fall asleep and induce deeper sleep. On the other hand, intense and unusual exercise can prevent you from falling asleep properly.
Exercise should also be avoided two to three hours before bedtime, as it can interfere with sleep. The ideal time to exercise is late afternoon or early evening.
Having sex, on the other hand, is an exercise that can be done just before going to sleep…This stimulates the production of endorphins, hormones that promote relaxation and well-being.
It’s best not to go to bed hungry.
A light snack can help you sleep, but don’t eat a large meal right before bed.
Dinner should be finished two to three hours, if not more, before bedtime.
Avoid drinking too much before bedtime so you don’t wake up with the urge to urinate.
6. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
To sleep well, it is best to limit nicotine consumption, which is a stimulant, especially as bedtime approaches.
The same applies to caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, colas). This is especially important in the evening because caffeine stays in the body for an average of three to five hours. But some people feel the effects for up to 12 hours. Also, even when caffeine does not prevent sleep, it can still disrupt sleep cycles and reduce the amount of deep sleep.
7. Alcohol: a harmful sleep aid
Although it can make it easier to fall asleep, alcohol reduces the quality of sleep, among other things because of the multiple (often unconscious) awakenings it causes.
Moreover, it disrupts sleep cycles and often accentuates snoring and sleep apnea problems.
This results in a less restful and less regenerative night.