Let’s dispel the 8 hours of sleep per night myth right away. A study by Daniel Kripe found that people who slept between 6.5 – 7.5 hours per night, live longer, are happier and more productive, than those who sleep longer (or fewer) hours. Essentially, each person’s sleep requirements vary; you may need 9 hours to function properly, or, you could be perfectly capable of coping on a mere 6.5 hours sleep per night. It is completely dependent on your genes and characteristics.
Unbalanced sleep patterns can cause major issues
According to studies, sleeping 9 hours or more can actually do more harm than good; you will put yourself at greater risk of illness and accidents, and even death. Short sleep durations however are also linked to mood swings, poor performance, lack of focus and alertness, and injuries. Scientific research has found a solid link between sleep deprivation and low productivity so it is important that you strike a healthy sleep balance in order to function properly throughout the day.
Ideally, between 7-9 hours of sleep per night is required for most adults to function properly. Your colleague may only need 6.5 hours of sleep while you need the full 9 hours, irrespective of this, your alertness and levels of concentration will largely be the same. This is because your reaction to sleep is down to your own genes. Your need for sleep is often very different to your want of sleep, so be aware of this and try to keep a healthy sleep routine going.
Dangers of losing sleep:
- Sleep deprivation causes an increased appetite, leading to a greater likelihood of obesity.
- An increased risk of diabetes and heart issues may occur.
- Psychiatric conditions may arise, including depression, paranoia, drug/drink abuse.
- Dramatically lowers levels of concentration and focus.
How to balance your sleeping pattern
Many people believe that taking naps throughout the day can actually make you more tired. This is a myth. In reality, taking a few power naps (around 15-20 minutes) during the day can give you a significant energy boost and help you to be more productive in the afternoons (when most people begin to feel less energetic). If you work in an office, this may not be feasible, so it is therefore imperative that you test how many hours of sleep you need to function properly at work. Try sleeping for a solid 8 hours, then lower it to 7 hours. If there is no difference, then you can safely say that 7 hours of rest per night is adequate for you.
Here are some additional tips on maintaining a healthy sleep balance:
- Get yourself into a routine. Every night, try to be in bed by a set time so that you get a full 7 hours sleep (or however many hours you need to function properly the next day).
- Take up regular exercise. This is a great way to keep healthy and will help you to sleep better at night.
- Relax before bed. The worst thing you can do is to watch TV, drink alcohol, or have a cup of coffee before bedtime. This will just stimulate your brain and prevent you from falling into a deep sleep. Instead, take a bubble bath, read a book or put on some relaxing music to drift off to.
- Avoid eating food before bedtime. Aim to finish eating around 2 hours before you want to go to sleep – this will help significantly in reducing how restless you are once in bed.