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How Much Sleep is Enough and How Can You Sleep Better?

September 25th, 2008 · 8 Comments ·
 
 

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Nowadays, I really have to make sure I sleep enough on the day I have done my workout. Moreover, with a new job which comes with hectic schedules, I tend to stay up late.  However, I know that muscles need time to recover and to grow. While people like me always complain of having not enough sleep, some people have too much sleep.  Many people eat and drink well beyond their biological need. Same with sleeping too. We tend to sleep more, given a chance to do so, like on Saturdays or Sundays.

So, How Much Sleep Do We Need?

Some experts said it should be about 8 hours. Some people seem to feel refreshed after 6.5 hours of sleep, whereas others need 9 hours. But, the more important question is: Do you wake up feeling refreshed and full of energy or not? In other words, quality is as important as the quantity, if not more important.

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When we get older, we will need less sleep. If you find that your sleep demand increases, then you are probably compensating for a decreased quality of sleep. Again, it is important to think not just about the amount of sleep, but the quality as well.

Why Teenagers Tend To Sleep Late and Wake Up Late?
Studies show that during the teen years, the body’s circadian rhythm (sort of like an internal biological clock) is reset, telling a person to fall asleep later and wake up later. This change in the circadian rhythm seems to be due to the fact that melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleeping and waking patterns, is produced later at night for teenagers. This can make it harder for teens to fall asleep early. (That is why you see so many teenagers still hanging out outside at 2 AM.)

For adult, an hour or 2 of missed sleep a night may not seem like a big deal, but it can create a noticeable sleep deficit over time.

How Do you Know If You Are Not Getting Enough Sleep?

For me, the first thing that happens if I do not get enough sleep is headache. Also, I will have problems with my sentences too. Usually there are word-finding difficulties or the grammar will mess  up. Something like…”David has postponed the meeting. She will call us evening tomorrow evening.”

Here are some of the signs that you may need more sleep:

  1. Difficulty waking up in the morning
  2. Not able to concentrate
  3. Falling asleep during classes or work
  4. Feelings of moodiness and even depression

However, there is a difference between being sleepy and tired. If I got up and did a hundred push up or sit up, I might feel tired, but I would not feel sleepy. Sleepiness is a feeling of lack of sleep, obviously, and tiredness is a feeling of physical fatigue.

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How Can You Sleep Better?

Here are some things that may help you to sleep better (compiled from different sources):

  • Set a regular bedtime. Going to bed at the same time each night will send signal to your body that it is time to sleep. Waking up at the same time every day can also help establish sleep patterns. Avoid “debts” that you will make up on the weekend. So try to stick to your sleep schedule even on weekends. Do not go to sleep more than an hour later or wake up more than 2 to 3 hours later than you do during week days.
  • Exercise regularly. However, do not exercise right before bed. It can raise your body temperature and wake you up.
  • Avoid beverages with caffeine, such as Coke and coffee.
  • Nicotine is also a stimulant, so quitting smoking may help you sleep better.

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  • Drinking alcohol in the evening can also cause a person to be restless and wake up during the night.
  • Relax your mind. Avoid violent, scary, or action movies (or porn movie) right before bed – anything that might set your mind and heart racing. Reading books with involved or active plots may also keep you from falling or staying asleep.
  • Unwind by keeping the lights low. Light always tell the brain that it is time to wake up. Before you sleep, stay away from bright lights, including computer screens, as well as meditating or listening to soothing music, can help your body relax.  Some people find that using sleep masks are helpful in “sleeping in dark”.

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  • Do not nap too much. Naps of more than 30 minutes during the day may keep you from falling asleep later.
  • Create the right sleeping environment. I sleep best in a dark room that is slightly on the cool side. Close your blinds or curtains. Lots of noise can be a sleep turnoff too.
  • Wake up with bright light. Bright light in the morning signals to your body that it is time to get going.
  • Nutritionists recommend calcium-rich foods before bedtime.  Warm glass of milk really works for some people. But, do not drink too much, otherwise, you may have to wake up middle of night to go to toilet.  Also, do not eat a heavy meal before bedtime.

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Hopefully, the above few tips will be helpful in getting you to sleep better.  Do you have any experience to share?  Leave it down here at the comment section.

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8 responses so far ↓
  • Yin Teing // Sep 25, 2008 at 5:20 PM

    I have a strange sleeping problem for 10 years-not that I can’t sleep, but I wake up most mornings feeling like I’ve not slept at all because I suffered from active dreams right before waking. So far, no doctor or healer could tell me what is wrong. I used to have to literally drag myself to work- so tired. Later, I found a workaround by cutting on refined sugar and exercising. The dreams are there but I can ‘rebound’ back to the day faster. This is a great article- especially the explanation on the difference between sleepy and tired.

  • Bill Coughlin // Sep 25, 2008 at 6:12 PM

    Great information I learned some things I did not know.

  • Paul Silver // Sep 26, 2008 at 5:00 AM

    Research has showed that more sleep can actually aid weight loss.

    Sleep influences the level of leptin in the body and leptin is a hormone that is produced by the fat cells.

    The leptin produced the better because it essentially works to surpress your appetite burns fat stored in tissue.

    So, those who are looking to lose weight should aim to get more sleep!

  • sugitha // Sep 26, 2008 at 3:19 PM

    Great Article, I am also having sleeping problem, daily I spent .30 minutes to 1 hours on my bed before sleeping, I try my level best to get sleep, morning I wake up on correct time but I won’t feel relax, now a days I am doing some meditation like deep breathing this is helpful to get sleep earlier.

  • Tom Parker // Sep 28, 2008 at 8:45 PM

    Good article. I generally don’t have many problems getting to sleep when I get in my bed. It’s just getting into bed on time where I struggle. I also struggle on weekends or holidays from work where I don’t need to be up early so I often go to bed a lot later and wake up a lot later too.

  • Sally // Oct 22, 2008 at 12:30 PM

    I certainly sleep better at night when I have been very active that day. You have to burn off that energy!

  • omkar // Aug 1, 2009 at 3:56 AM

    i dnt drink or smoke
    nt even pepsi, coffee or coke
    i xercise 4-5 days a week
    still i cant get qualitative sleep
    i dnt feel headache or other symptoms of lack of sleep

  • v // Feb 25, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    It depends, actually most exercise are good to keep you feeling refresh & alert. My gym pumping friend goes to gym every day except on weekend sometimes. Every morning he exercises about 2 hours – combo. of lift weights, running, stretching, cooling down exercise. I noticed he’s always alert in the morning.. but a bit tired by noon (well most ppl. do haha).

    He & my school teachers mentioned that – exercise stimulates oxygen to the brain & release endorphins so it keep you alert. So I guess to some it’s hard for them to sleep.

    For my case, if I go jogging at parks or up hills in the evening.
    I will have some probs. tuning off to sleep.
    But if I do swimming, it knocks me off to sleep perfectly.
    I guess maybe
    1) coz. jogging is hot & swimming is relaxing & cooling.
    2) jogging requires more leg muscles work & at time takes diff. time to recover

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