When we don't get a good nights sleep we feel the effects the next day. Being tired, grumpy and unfocussed are usual effects but prolonged poor sleep can cause far greater issues.
So, how much sleep is enough? How can you get more sleep and what happens to us if we don't get enough sleep?
How many hours should you sleep?
As with pretty much anything there is no hard and fast rule. We are all individuals and must do what works for ourselves.
Having said that, it helps to have some guidance and it probably won't surprise you that The Sleep Foundation recommend adults get 7-9 hours a night!
If you're getting significantly less than this on a regular basis it is worth having a think about what is causing this.
Some tips to try to improve your sleep
Stick to the same sleep schedule every day.
Try to get to bed at the same time, even on the weekends.
Practice a relaxing pre-bed routine.
This might mean something like taking a bath before reading in bed for 20 minutes then turning off the lights. If you are introducing a routine you may want to consider trying a guided meditation each night. This could go a long way to calming your mind and helping you ready yourself for sleep. If you are interested in trying meditation at bedtime Insight Timer have a large selection of Yoga Nidra meditations that are ideal for this time just before you sleep.
Update your bedroom set up.
When you next need to update your mattress get the best you can afford. Find one that is supportive and comfortable. Get the best pillows and bedding within your budget as well. This will help to make your sleeping area a special place that you look forward to going to.
Keep your bedroom quiet and dark at night. Make sure your room is not too hot and there are no strong smells that may distract you.
Turn off your phones! and laptops for a half-hour or more before bed.
Turn off all phones and laptops for at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from these devices can affect your circadian rhythms (the body's natural 24h sleep cycle) and make it harder to fall asleep.
Consider your caffeine and alcohol intake.
These can both affect your ability to get a good nights sleep. If you are currently struggling with getting to sleep it may beneficial to stop drinking caffeine after lunchtime and see if this makes a difference.
Why do we need sleep?
Matt Walker is a neuroscientist expert whose research focuses on the impact of sleep on human health and disease. You can see his very interesting TED talk on sleep as a superpower below.
Matt has also written a book called 'Why We Sleep', this quote is taken from his book and it's a real eye opener.