Don’t you get enough sleep? Do you sleep too much?
Dr. Daniel Buysse, a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, thinks you can’t judge if sleep loss is impairing you. While comparing sleep deprivation with intoxication, he finds most people routinely misjudge how impaired they are with insufficient sleep. If your sleep 6 hours each night, your cognitive function and reaction times were reduced as much as those who went two nights without any sleep. Dr. Buysse points out that you did not always recognize that your body didn’t adjust to less sleep.
Conversely, can we sleep too much? About 30% of US adults are “long sleepers”, and they sleep more than 9 hours. They are more likely to develop heart disease, type II diabetes, and weight gain. And, long sleepers also get that “fuzzy” brain. Maybe, you should set an alarm.
How long should we sleep? Generally, the amount of sleep that we need is flexible, according to Jim Horne, a sleep expert at the Sleep Research Center at Loughborough University in England. You are getting enough sleep without counting the hours if you are not sleepy in the day and you’re having a fulfilling wakefulness.
Sleep Expert Horne says we can train for less sleep. He studies what will happen if people cut down their regular sleep down to 6 hours. He lets people who work with subjects that slept from 7 to 8 ½ hours go to bed an hour later during the first week and pushes it back by 1.5 hours the next three weeks. And, the subjects awakened at the same time every day. Horne finds that they not only are able to function but also are getting quality sleep. He thinks we should worry about the quality of sleep instead of the amount of sleep. Don’t try to push your sleep back if you already feel sleep deprived.
Tips for Better Sleep
- Turn off those screens.
- Avoid a big late-night meal.
- Pay attention to your sleep habits.
- Track your sleep and see what is right for you.
- Know when you have good, productive days and how long you slept the night before.
- Exercising in the afternoon helps you sleep well since it raises your body temperature.
- A cooling body temperature helps you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply.