Pillow Talk: How much sleep do you really need?

21st-century life is fast-paced and hectic. To keep up, people often prioritize productivity and work output ahead of their well-being. Unfortunately, this often compromises their health, and particularly their ability to get a good night’s sleep. 


According to a Consumer Reports survey, 164 million Americans—nearly 70% of the population—struggle to fall asleep at least once a week. 27% of people struggle to fall or stay asleep each night


But how much sleep do you actually need? What can you do to drift off to sleep and keep yourself from tossing and turning throughout the night? 


Keep reading to find out. 


Why sleep is important 

Most people know the importance of sleep, even if they don’t always get enough of it. However, failing to give your body the rest it needs can affect your health in many different ways. 


When you sleep, your body works to repair muscles and remove toxins from your brain. It also helps preserve memories, ensuring you don’t forget events from that day and from far into the past. 


In addition to supporting your physical and mental health, sleep also affects your emotions. People who don’t get enough sleep are often cranky because their bodies can’t regulate their emotions. 


On top of all of that, sleep also affects your body weight, metabolism, immune system, and appetite control. 


How much is enough?

Most health experts recommend that adults get between 7-9 hours each night. Teenagers need between 8-10, and children may need even more—up to 11 or 13 hours. 


That said, the exact number of hours you need depends on a few different factors. 


Sleep quality

It doesn’t matter if you’re in bed for the recommended amount of time—if you toss and turn throughout the entire night, you won’t feel well-rested the next day. On the flip side, if you get a fantastic night’s sleep, you might be able to get away with staying in bed for a shorter amount of time. 


Make a point to prioritize sleep quality in addition to sleep duration. 


Your genetics

Sleep is personal—the exact amount you need can differ wildly from that of a friend or family member. Everyone’s genetics are different, which means that everyone’s sleep requirements are as well.


Try to figure out how much sleep you need to look and feel your absolute best. 


How to sleep better

If you’re struggling to fall asleep and not wake up during the night, spend some time figuring out why that might be happening.


In most cases, getting a more restful night’s sleep is as simple as:

  • Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule
  • Relaxing before bed
  • Sleeping in the right environment
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine before bed
  • Avoiding electronics before bed
  • Staying active throughout the day

If you already do all of that but still struggle with sleeping, don’t be afraid to visit a sleep specialist. They can help identify whether you have an underlying condition that’s making sleep difficult. 


Count sheep

It’s easy to forget the value of sleep, especially when you have so many seemingly pressing things to do. However, no matter how busy you are, resting for the recommended amount of time is a must.


Be aware of how much sleep your body needs, then make sure always to get that amount. Before you know it, you’ll feel better than you ever knew possible!

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