Sleep is something we can often take for granted; when it’s going well we barely give it a second thought, but when we are missing it then we really start to notice the effects. As our lives all run on different schedules, it can be hard to know when the best hours to sleep are to meet our lifestyles.
Guaranteeing you get enough sleep is crucial in ensuring you are doing the best in all other aspects of your life. Without the adequate hours of sleep, you will feel lethargic, depressed, and more prone to accidents in your everyday life.
So, what is the right amount of sleep for you? How do you work this into your daily routine to ensure you’re getting the most sleep while not taking away from other important facets of your life? Working out a sleep schedule can be a helpful task to get your sleeping habits back on track and have yourself feeling good again.
What is the Right Amount of Sleep?
To work out the adequate sleep that you need, you’ll need to follow the recommended guidelines set out by the National Sleep Foundation. These guidelines are grouped into different age categories, with most adults needing between seven to nine hours per night.
There may be days where this amount changes, as you may be late getting to bed and still having to rise early, or find the need to catch up on some lost sleep during the weekend. However, as a standard rule, you should be aiming for around eight hours each night to reap the benefits of a good rest.
Without this amount of sleep, you are opening yourself up to a myriad of health issues, both mentally and physically. The effects of sleep deprivation can be felt instantly the following day with lethargy, anxiety, depression, and confusion. Long term, a lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to heart disease and diabetes, among others.
Although it may be hard for some to hit their daily recommended goal, sometimes forming good sleep habits can take time and practice. This is particularly true for babies and toddlers, as they need help in setting their body clocks when they arrive into the world.
What Are the Best Hours to Sleep?
Depending on your personal schedule, your best sleep time may differ. As each person has their own priorities in life, whether it’s gym, late shifts at work, young children, or something else, there’s no set timeframe that will work for everyone.
Many people find that their body clock will let them know when it’s time for bed, as they start to feel the effects of being tired. After a full night’s sleep, their bodies will them wake them gently at the beginning of a new day, or they may need an alarm clock to help them rise.
A study conducted in the 1990s looked at natural sleep patterns of humans and found that we had adjusted to the eight-hour block of sleep as the advancement of artificial light became popular in homes.
Prior to this, humans were known to sleep in two four-hour blocks, with a couple of hours in between. It is thought that this is the reason many people awake in the night and find it difficult to return back to their relaxed state of slumber.
However, this method likely wouldn’t work for modern man as we already find ourselves struggling to the get the recommended seven-hour minimum with our busy schedules. Therefore, the best sleep cycle for humans is to work around their day to day priorities first and ensure they reach the suggested amount for their age.
Finding the Best Sleep Schedule For You
For those who work at night or on shift work, you’ll need to train your body to get used to these hours. As humans naturally sleep during the evening hours, it can take some time to adjust your body clock and internal rhythms to become nocturnal.
If you have no responsibilities during the night and go about your business in daylight hours as most do, working out your best sleep schedule can be done with a few simple steps.
- Figure out your typical wake time. If you’re unsure of what this is, determine what time you need to rise each morning in order to meet your daily responsibilities and ensure you’re ready for work/school/other tasks.
- Using that amount, count backward 7.5 hours and set that as your standard bedtime. For example, you need to wake at 6am each day, so you should be asleep by 10.30pm the previous night. Allow yourself half an hour to fall asleep, as is standard for most people.
- Set your alarm for the morning, and if you wake up within 10 minutes of it going off each morning, and continue to do so for three days, this is your optimum bedtime.
- If you find your alarm is waking you each day and you feel tired still, adjust your bedtime back by 15 minutes every few days until you have successfully woken before your alarm clock.
Feel the Rewards of a Decent Sleep
The benefits of getting a full night’s sleep can be found instantly, and you may find that your sleep issues may simply have been a product of a poorly timed schedule. Try the experiment recommended above to see if your body is getting adequate rest each night and figure out your best hours to sleep.
With the correct sleep schedule in place, you can be sure you have enough time to enjoy the other aspects of your life, while maintaining a healthy body and mind as well. As we spend a third of our lives asleep, it’s crucial we give this practice the attention it deserves.