How much sleep do I need?
A dodgy sleep cycle can seriously affect the way you live your life. Let TheSite.org show you how to shape up your shut-eye.
Why do we sleep?
To make sure our bodies don’t burn out through constant wear and tear, it’s important we rest on a regular basis. As a result, our bodies are fitted with biological clocks:
- The biological clock runs in sleep/wake cycles and works by tweaking certain hormone levels in our bodies.
- When our mental and physical function start to slip each day, the biological clock starts to wind down adrenaline levels, a naturally occurring stimulant. Ultimately, this persuades us that it’s time to head for bed.
- Once we’re asleep, the body can then carry out essential repair work.
- Growth hormones become more active during our horizontal hours, while the brain and eyes get the protein they need to function properly.
- As we come out of the sleep cycle, adrenaline kicks in again, speeding up body function and ultimately waking us.
How much do I need?
On average, between five and nine hours each night. It’s different for everyone, so check out the following steps to get yourself the sleep you need:
- Go to bed at the same time: Establish a routine. Hit the sack when you feel tired at the end of each day, so your body clock doesn’t have to work hard at getting you to stop.
- Get up when you wake up: If you stir before your alarm then get out of bed. Obeying your body clock might be a chore but you’ll feel more alert through the day.
- Get into shape: Regular work-outs reduce sleep-stopping adrenaline. It also drinks up excess energy that could leave you with your sheets in a tangle.
- Eat sensibly: Avoid eating last thing at night or going to bed hungry. If you’re stuffed or starving, your stomach won’t let you rest.
- Check out your bedding: For a good night’s sleep, osteopaths recommend a firm, level and supported mattress. Otherwise, a sheet of plywood underneath should provide the support you need. As sleep is best with room temperature between 15-21 c make sure your duvet isn’t too heavy. Also wear loose-fitting cotton night garments to allow your skin to breathe.
- Relax before bedtime: Herbal remedies can help reduce stress and get you into the right mind frame: basil, camomile, lettuce and marjoram all have a calming effect.
Too little sleep?
Here are the signs that you’re not getting enough:
- Fatigue: If you’re out of rhythm with your sleep cycle, then at some point in your waking hours your body will start begging you to lie down.
- You forget things, and make bad decisions: Fatigue affects your mental capacity. If you’re up and about during a sleep cycle then your ability to remember things starts to slip, and patience can wear thin.
- Your physical reactions slow down: When you’re tired, your body slows down in order to conserve energy. As a result, mundane tasks can become harder to carry out, while your reaction times take a nose dive.
- Your appearance starts to suffer: Your skin won’t get revitalised, your eyes lose their sparkle and your immune system weakens.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
It's like a mid-life crisis, only earlier.
Is it ever right for a man to have boobs? Read on and ...
Single on Valentine’s Day?
Being single on the day of love can be just as fun as ...
Dealing with arguments
How to make sure rows have a happier ending.
Dealing with family dinners
Don't nod off over the soup. Here's how to stay alert ...