How much sleep do you get? Sleep is so vital to all living organisms and yet many of us try to get by with so little. Studies have shown that in order to ensure good health and longevity the amount of sleep required is about 7-9 hours per night for adults. Further to this, every hour of sleep we get before midnight is equivalent to two hours of sleep after midnight in terms of repair and restoration of our bodies. This means going to bed earlier is better than going to bed later, even if we get the same amount of sleep.
Interestingly, prior to the electric light bulb the average adult slept for 10 hours per night. I wonder how much better we would all feel if we slept for this long!
So what does sleep actually do for our bodies?
- Allows for repair of our tissues
- Causes children to grow by stimulating release of growth hormone
- Controls body fat levels and appetite by stimulating release of the hormone leptin (so a person that doesn’t sleep well can have problems controlling their body weight and appetite)
- Slows the aging process
- Boosts the immune system
- Reduces stress hormone levels which reduces depression, irritability, and anxiety
- Improves concentration, alertness, and brain function
So how can we ensure a good night’s sleep?
- Make sure your room is quiet and dark
- Remove electronic devices from the bedroom
- Keep your room at a comfortable temperature
- Don’t take work to bed with you
- Try not to co-sleep with children and pets
- Wind down in the evening by diming the lights, keeping a peaceful environment, and stopping work 1-2 hours before bed
- Avoid caffeine 3-4 hours before bed
- Use ear plugs if your partner snores
So to sum up, we all need to sleep. How much sleep we need is individual but on average is about 7-9 hours per night. Following the above simple strategies may allow us all to have a better night’s slumber.