All about sleeping

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

When you’re scrambling to meet the demands of modern life, cutting back on sleep can seem like the only answer. How else are you going to get through your neverending to-do list or make time for a little fun? Sure, a solid eight hours sounds great, but who can afford to spend so much time sleeping? The truth is you can’t afford not to.

Sleep consists of a series of distinct cycles and stages that restore and refresh your body and mind. Even minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress. If you want to feel your best, stay healthy, and perform up to your potential, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Learn what happens when you’re sleeping, how to determine your nightly sleep needs, and what you can do to bounce back from chronic sleep loss and get on a healthy sleep.

Many of us want to sleep as little as possible—or feel like we have to. There are so many things that seem more interesting or important than getting a few more hours of sleep. But just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health and happiness, so is sleep. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!

 

Stages of sleep

Getting good, restorative sleep is not just a matter of spending enough hours in bed. The amount of time you spend in each of the stages of sleep matters. A normal adult spends approximately 50 percent of total sleep time in stage 2 sleep, 20 percent in REM sleep, and 30 percent in the remaining stages, including deep sleep.

Each stage of sleep in the sleep cycle offers benefits to the sleeper. However, deep sleep (stages 3 and 4) and REM sleep are particularly important.

 

Myth and Facts

 

How many hours of sleep do you need?

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more . And despite the notion that sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

Signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation

Paying off sleep debts

Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the hours you actually get. Every time you sacrifice on sleep, you add to the debt. Eventually, the debt will have to be repaid. It won’t go away on its own. If you lose an hour of sleep, you must make up that extra hour somewhere down the line in order to bring your “account” back into balance.

 

Sleeping in on the weekends is not enough!

Many of us try to repay our sleep debt by sleeping in on the weekends. But as it turns out, bouncing back from chronic lack of sleep isn’t that easy. One or two solid nights of sleep aren’t enough to pay off a long-term debt. While extra sleep can give you a temporary boost (for example, you may feel great on Monday morning after a relaxing weekend), your performance and energy will drop back down as the day wears on.

 

Tips for staying and getting out of sleep debt

While you can’t pay off sleep debt in a night or even a weekend, with a little effort and planning, you can get back on track.

  • Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Make sure you don’t fall farther in debt by blocking off a minimum of 8 hours for sleep each night. Consistency is the key.
  • Settle short-term sleep debt with an extra hour or two per night. If you lost 10 hours of sleep, pay the debt back in nightly one or two-hour installments.
  • Keep a sleep diary. Record when you go to bed, when you get up, your total hours of sleep, and how you feel during the day. As you keep track of your sleep, you’ll discover your natural patterns and get to know your sleep needs.
  • Take a sleep vacation to pay off a long-term sleep debt. Pick a two-week period when you have a flexible schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and allow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. No alarm clocks! If you continue to keep the same bedtime and wake up naturally, you’ll eventually dig your way out of debt and arrive at the sleep schedule that’s ideal for you.
  • Make sleep a priority. Just as you schedule time for work and other commitments, you should schedule enough time for sleep. Instead of cutting back on sleep in order to tackle the rest of your daily tasks, put sleep at the top of your to-do list.

 

 

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