Do you know that not everyone needs the classical 8 hours of sleep? How many times have you been told to sleep eight hours a day? At some point in time, it became the gold standard for the amount of sleep we should have, and why is this, if we all need a different amount of time to rest? It’s time to debunk this misconception and start handling sleep as a priority when it comes to personal health and well-being.
4 main factors that can influence your sleep
Did you know that sleep disorders can be hereditary? No one knows for sure why we need to sleep, but research has proved that sleep is regulated genetically, and your sleep traits come down to DNA - you can thank your parents if you have great sleeping nights. However, other factors that will influence your quality of sleep just as much.
The menstrual cycle
Several studies suggest that the menstrual cycle can influence sleep. Many women need more sleep before they have their period and less sleep after. This happens because of fluctuations in hormones like progesterone, luteinizing hormone, and prolactin. Adding to that a woman’s body goes through a lot of internal changes. Cramps, for instance, make it harder to fall asleep or even jolt women awake. So feel free to take some naps before your period.
Have you ever noticed that different times of the year or even the weather can influence your sleep?
The environment, temperature, or humidity determine the quantity and quality of our sleep.
During the winter season, for instance, the days are shorter, and we are exposed to less sunlight. This will lead to a lower level of vitamin D, and a lower level of this vitamin means that you won’t sleep as well. There’s a very interesting study that shows that office workers who sat near the window slept better than those who didn’t.
Like so, cooler air helps you sleep better, while hot and humid air makes it harder to sleep. So expose yourself to the glorious sunbeams and go for cold dry air in your house for a night of better sleep.
Anxiety or Health issues
Our sleep quality changes according to our health. For instance, when in pain, we tend to have less sleep, right? That’s because pain tends to limit the depth of our sleep, allowing only brief episodes of sleep.
The same happens when dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress. We find it harder to fall asleep and can’t seem to get a deeper sleep, because our body is programmed to respond to stressful situations by waking up. This can be particularly problematic, because lack of sleep causes more stress, and stress causes lack of sleep.
Caffeine and other Substances
You probably turn to caffeine to improve your alertness and energy, right? However, you need to be aware that it can have a negative impact on your sleep. Caffeine works by slowing the actions of the hormones in the brain that make us tired, especially adenosine, and especially in women. By doing so it can reduce the quality and quantity of your sleep. It can take more than five hours for it to leave your system, so drink your coffee or delicious matcha tea, very much ahead of your sleeping hour.
Energy drinks, nicotine, or alcohol stimulate our body just as much. Even if you fall asleep quickly, the quality of your sleep will be compromised. You need to pick your pinot grigio or a good night's sleep.
How to sleep better
Wellness is much more than regular exercise and a healthy diet. A good night’s sleep is just as important, and it can really influence your life. Because it’s not always about quantity, but about quality, here are some tips to help you sleep better at night besides calling Mr. Sandman:
Increase sunlight exposure during the day
As was mentioned before, the amount of natural sunlight during the day can influence your sleep. A good amount of natural light helps to keep your circadian rhythm healthy, which will improve your daytime energy and night-time sleep quality and duration.
Don’t eat late at night
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, eating heavily at night may have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. And both the amount of food and the type of food you are eating will have an influence. So before bedtime go for a lighter and healthier option.
Take a relaxing bath
We all have imagined a smooth bath to relax… It turns out it’s actually scientifically proven it can help you sleep better. Our body temperature is the lowest during sleep. Hot water changes our body’s core temperature. The temperature will drop down so that we can go to bed at a lower temperature.
Beware not to bathe too close to bedtime, because your body may not have enough time to cool down.
And how much sleep do you really need?
Well, the sad answer: it depends. First, the amount of sleep you need changes during the different phases of life. If you click on “How Much Sleep Is Enough?” you’ll find that the National Institutes of Health has a well-designed chart to help you understand this. According to them, adults with an age of 18 years or older need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day, while teens of an age between 13 and 18 years need around 8 to 10 hours.
You also need to understand that if you lose sleep, the sleep loss adds up and napping will not provide the same benefits of night-time sleep. Going to bed later or sleeping in on days off can also upset your body’s sleep pattern.
The best way to discover how much sleep you really need is to try and use a sleep diary for a couple of weeks. Write down how much sleep you get each night and how rested you feel during the day. This way you’ll learn which amount of sleep works best for you at each time of the month and life
Once you find your ideal number, keep going with it. Consistency is key, which means no sleeping in on weekends, or going to bed later. Remember to leave yourself some wiggle room. If you notice you need 7 hours of sleep, go to bed a little earlier than that, you will need time to fall asleep.
Eight hours of sleep has for sure been a gold standard for the amount of sleep we should aim for. That’s because the average time people sleep for is around 8 hours, and some might actually need more and others less. However, that doesn’t mean you are the same. It’s time to bust this myth. Like we often emphasize at Wonther, people should bear in mind that every person is different and has their own needs. Rest is precisely one of the aspirations represented in the Stamp It collection, which was designed to remember that success is different for everyone and we should “stamp it” proudly.
Different factors may influence sleep, and it’s up to you to find out the amount of sleep you need. Acknowledge sleep as a part of wellness and… sweet dreams.