When you are constantly feeling tired, are troubled by lacking performance and are fighting the whole day long with yawning chances are high that you are either sleeping too much or too less. On long term, both is harmful for body and soul and may lead to serious health problems. The perfect sleep duration differs from person to person. Here, different factors like physical activity, age or the own genes are playing a role. With a simple test it is easy to find out how much sleep is perfect for the own body.
The following recommendation indicates which sleep duration fits for which age and offers an orientation: Babies need the most sleep -– from 14-15 hours, small children about 12-14 hours, school children only 10-11 hours and teenagers even only 8-10 hours. The sleep need of grown-ups is the smallest one, ideally between 7-9 hours. When getting older, the sleep need is growing again. Seniors need about the same amount of sleep like young grown-ups, but since they often are not able to sleep through resp. often wake up early, short naps during the day are advisable. But take care! If you are sleeping too much during the day or too late –- don’t sleep after 3 p.m. — the sleep need in the evening is low –- and this consequently makes it difficult to fall asleep. Pregnant women tend to sleep more, since they are exhausted quicker. For people who are suffering under a lack of sleep and its consequences it is important to get more sleep.
In spite of these rough guidelines, every human being needs a different amount of sleep during the night. By following some simple instructions you will easily find out your perfect sleep duration.
Ideally, several hours before going to bed you should not eat any more and make no more sports. Furthermore, one hour before going to bed you should not drink anything and go to the bathroom right before going to sleep. Otherwise, the full bladder will make itself noticeable and it is not possible to sleep through disturbance-free. Before going to bed, avoid activities that tax your brain! This includes reading, watching TV or listening to music, for example. Try to do something tiresome and relaxing instead. Meditation and autogenic training are helpful for falling asleep. During execution of this test you should completely avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, as well as waive after-lunch-sleep or power naps so that the ideal sleep duration is not distorted by sleeping during the day.
There are two possibilities to find out the ideal sleep duration. Depending on how the course of the day looks like, you are following the appropriate instructions of the respective tests. During the test, fix falling asleep resp. waking-up-times have to be planned and complied with, if possible, so that the sleep rhythm doesn’t get disturbed.
Here, it is important to get up at the exact same time every day. It is secondary when, but you should not wake up yourself or be waken up earlier. You get up, as soon as the alarm clock rings at the same time every day or (better) as soon as you wake up yourself at the same time every day. In the evening, you go to bed when you are tired. It doesn’t make sense to go to bed when you are feeling too alert or to force yourself to stay awake. If you are consequently following this for about two weeks, your body is used to always get up at the same time. By getting tired, your body is sending signals for going to bed at a certain time. For example: when you get up at 6 a.m. every day and get tired at 11 p.m., your individual sleep duration is about seven hours.
Here, the going-to-bed-time has to be fixed. It should be possible to sleep through about nine or ten hours. Best would be, that you are already tired at this time so that you don’t have to lie awake for too long. Do without an alarm clock during this phase of the test. If there is a risk that you might oversleep although having slept 9-10 hours, you may set an “emergency-alarm-clock”. But, waking up with an alarm clock falsifies the test, in this case better do test 1. If you stick to the same time to go to bed, after some time you will wake up at the same time. So, if you are going to bed around 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m., your ideal sleep duration is about eight hours.
When your body is signalizing that your individual sleep duration strongly deviates from the norm and for example in the long run feel alert and fit with a sleep duration of -– let’s say -– for hours per night, listen to your body!
Of course, these are rough guide lines and no fix rules. Give your body the time it needs and it will find out how much sleep you need by itself!
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