It’s recommended that we get 8 hours of sleep each night. Some people might need more sleep, whereas others might be more productive on less. Experts say that anything between 4-11 hours sleep per night is what we should be aiming for. Of course, this does depend on the individual. Although it’s not advised to rely on less than 8 hours sleep at night, it’s an adequate amount if you’re taking a nap during the daytime too.
Should You Have an Afternoon Nap?
You may be familiar with recent studies, showing the benefits of taking a midday nap. If you’re regularly sleeping more than 8 hours at night then the chances are that you won’t need a power nap during the day. When adopting a healthy sleep pattern, it’s equally as important that you don’t oversleep. Sleeping too much can make you feel sluggish and lethargic and can be counterproductive for your energy levels.
That said, if you have to limit your night time sleeping hours, scheduling an hour or two in the daytime to have an afternoon nap will help to recharge you batteries and prevent you from suffering that afternoon energy slump, especially if you wake up early in the morning. Alternatively, if you’re feeling tired during the afternoon but don’t fancy taking a nap, why not simply chill out and read a magazine, listen to a podcast or meditate for an hour if you can?
Why Do Experts Recommend 8 Hours Sleep?
Experts recommend 8 hours sleep a night because this is the optimum number of hours required for your body to rest, repair and recharge those energy levels. While sleep experts and doctors also recommend other sleep models, such as power napping in 2-4 hours intervals or scheduling afternoon naps, these sleep patterns tend to much more difficult to incorporate into your daily life.
Another keen advocate for getting 8 hours sleep a night is the Huffington Post and Thrive Global Founder – Arianna Huffington. Arianna Huffington published her bestselling book ‘The Sleep Revolution’ back in 2016 and it’s all about getting a good night’s sleep. The author was part of the workaholic, office addicts of the 80s and 90s when it was deemed cool for business people to get as little sleep as possible! It was thought that the less sleep you got, the more successful and dedicated to your work you were. This was of course, untrue and as the former Huff Post editor later learned, working long hours on minimal sleep could be very dangerous!
Unfortunately, Arianna Huffington learned the hard way when she passed out from exhaustion while alone in her office and woke up in a pool of her own blood. Upon fainting, Arianna had hit her head on her desk as she fell to the ground, resulting in painful cuts around her eyes and a broken cheekbone! This was the ‘wake up’ call she needed to remind her to rest and look after her health.
Why You Feel Tired When You Wake Up in the Morning
Even if you are getting by on little sleep, you might not necessarily feel the effects straight away. Sleeping isn’t just about recharging your energy levels. Your body needs enough sleep each night to ensure that you pass through the four sleep phases. As you fall asleep, your body will enter into phase 1, followed by phases 2, 3, and 4. If you’re getting 8 hours of undisturbed sleep each night then it’s safe to say that your body enters into the necessary sleep cycle. On the other hand, if you’re getting interrupted sleep or are managing just a few hours of shut eye a night then you might not be experiencing the full sleep cycle.
What Are Sleep Phases?
There are 4 phases in the sleep cycle. When you fall asleep you will start by entering into phase 1 before drifting through each of the other 3 phases. Each sleep phase lasts varying amounts of time and has a different effect on your body.
Phase 1: during this phase, you lose consciousness but at this point you’re not in a deep sleep. It’s very easy to be woken up in this phase. Phase 1 usually lasts for about 10 minutes before you move into phase 2.
Phase 2: This is a great phase of sleep. Experts refer to this phase as the “real sleep phase,” meaning that it’s the phase in which you are deeply relaxed and your body and mind is rested. Your heartbeat slows down and your temperature drops. You spend the longest period in this sleep phase – it usually lasts between 20 and 30 minutes.
Phase 3: Continuing on from phase 2, phase 3 is also known as SWS sleep. It is what the experts call “slow wave sleep.” Your body recovers, helping your cells to rejuvenate and your energy levels are restored.
Phase 4: This phase is what sleep experts refer to as REM sleep. During phase 4, your eyes move very fast, your mind is also active and this is what causes you to dream. So, if you have dreams at night, you’ll know that you’ve reached phase 4 during your sleep. After phase 4 is over, your body will return to phase 1 and the cycle will continue until you wake up.
It’s important that your body enters all four phases when you sleep. Those who suffer sleep problems, interrupted sleep or don’t have enough sleep will not go through all four phases. This is when the negative effects of bad sleep will begin to affect your health and energy levels. When your body doesn’t pass through all four phases without disturbances, you’re not getting the benefits that each stage provides.
4 Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
- Try out an eye mask to block out light.
- Try out supplements. Do Not Age offers a wide range of natural supplements to help reverse the signs of ageing and with sleep. You can get 5% off your next order at DoNotAge.org with discount code: OnlinePersonalStylist
- Arianna Huffington’s book ‘The Sleep Revolution’ is full of tips on how to get yourself into ‘sleep mode’.
- Finally, try to switch off all of your screens at least one hour before bedtime. It's easier said than done but there are strong links between insomnia and too much screen time!