How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get Each Night
Do you ever feel like you could sleep for days and still not feel rested? If you’re anything like me, sleep is one of the main things you lack – making it virtually impossible to ever catch up on sleep and not need 10 cups of coffee a day to survive. Sleep is essential to our overall mental and physical health. How many hours of sleep you get every night has the power to affect your everyday mood and energy, but a longer time doesn't always equal quality. So maybe it's time to put the phone away at night and finally create some new, healthy sleep habits.
- Seven to nine hours is how many hours of sleep an adult should receive per night in order to feel properly rested and energized.
- Within the five stages of the sleep cycle, N3 is the deepest and highest quality of sleep.
- There are many ways to develop healthy sleep habits and strengthen the quality and length of your sleep.
How many hours should you get each night?
Just because you’re able to operate on 4-5 hours of sleep a night, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or sustainable. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should be aiming for at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night. I know that with a busy schedule this can be hard to do, but it is possible if you figure out ways to schedule your day around sleep, rather than schedule your sleep around your day.
It’s not just the amount of sleep that is important, but rather the quality of sleep that comes with it. You could go to bed at 9 at night and “sleep” until 10 in the morning and still not reap the benefits of your long night if you were in and out of sleep the whole time. It’s extremely important to try and have a good amount of deep sleep throughout the night.
Stages of sleep
I’m sure you’ve heard about the stages of the sleep cycle, but what does all of that really mean? All of these stages can affect how many hours of sleep you receive. To be specific, there are five main stages of sleep:
This first stage of sleep occurs right when you begin to close your eyes and attempt to fall asleep. Essentially, you are beginning the process of the sleep cycle, and at this point, you are probably feeling a little drowsy.
This next stage of sleep is extremely light sleep and accounts for only about 5% of the whole cycle. N1 sleep can be characterized as the transition between wake and sleep.
During the N2 stage of the sleep cycle, your body enters a deeper and more relaxed state. This is when your heart rate tends to slow down, and your muscles can fully relax and lose all tension. Eye movement also comes to a complete stop during this stage.
This is the deepest and best type of sleep. Even though it only accounts for around 20% of an average adult's sleep cycle, it is the stage of sleep that can truly make or break how you feel in the morning. This is the type of sleep that, when interrupted, startles you and leaves you with mind fog.
Those super vivid dreams where you wake up and aren’t sure if what happened in your dream actually occurred in real life happen in the REM stage of sleep. These periods usually only last for around 90 minutes, and your body begins to become more active again. REM sleep usually occurs at the end of your sleep and isn’t really the most restful part of the cycle.
Why is sleep so important
As a busy person, you can’t expect to not have to recharge your mind and body. I know that it can feel like there’s not enough time in the day to achieve everything you want to do, but it’s better to at least be rested and energized while trying to check all the daily boxes. Sleep is so important because it gives your body and brain the time it needs to rest and fully recover from busy days. A University of Michigan research team states that “sleep is essential to every process in the body, affecting our physical and mental functioning the next day, our ability to fight disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism and chronic disease risk.”
Not getting enough sleep can be extremely dangerous for more than just your physical health. Fatigue opens the door for many mental health issues as well. Personally, I tend to develop more negative feelings and feel less motivated to go about the day when I'm tired. On the other hand, when I am well rested, I feel like I can take on the world. Sleep facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information, so a lack of it can cause a harmful world perception.
How to get more and higher quality sleep
If you find yourself feeling sluggish, drowsy, and constantly in need of a nap, that could be a major sign of sleep deprivation. If you’re ready to ditch the alarm and start your own internal clock, there are many ways to help fix poor sleep habits and change the way you feel.
Get regular exercise
Exercise is key to helping your body get into a healthy sleep routine. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day can help increase slow sleep waves for more of that stage 3 deep sleep.
Minimize light and sound
Darkness is crucial to getting good sleep since it causes your brain to release melatonin for a calming, sleepy effect. Make sure all the lights are off in your room, even computer and phone lights. Noise is also key to falling asleep, so if you live in an area where it can be noisy outside, try using a fan or white noise to drain out the unwanted sounds.
Keep a routine
Consistency is key to maintaining healthy sleep habits. Doing the same thing before bed each night forms a sense of comfort and tells your body to wind down. Try and implement mindfulness into your routines such as light yoga or stretching, journaling, or meditation.
Be mindful of what you are putting into your body
One thing that people don’t realize when they have a hard time falling asleep is that what you put into your body throughout the day can affect sleep. For example, eating right before bed or going to sleep hungry can cause discomfort and make it harder for you to fall asleep. Also limit caffeine to only the morning time, since drinking it in the afternoon can keep you up for hours past the time you aimed to drift off.
Written by Emma Carlson