Every human being has different sleep needs for taking full advantage of the regeneration-potential of sleep for body, mind and soul. Although the exact function of sleep is not scientifically clear yet, we know that sufficient and high-quality sleep is a perfect basis for cognitive performance, for learning and our brain, and very important for our cardiovascular-, metabolic- and immune-systems.
Pause for a moment, before start calculating your personal sleep need. Because, the sleep duration is only one relevant factor for an overall assessment of sleeping quality. Though, a very important one and at the same time very individual – grown-ups need between seven and nine hours, some more, some less.
Then, of course, it makes a big difference whether your sleep is good or bad. Not only sleep duration is influencing this but also sleep quality which in turn depends on a lot of constant key factors (bed room, sleeping place, bed etc.) and variable key factors (lifestyle, coffee, nicotine, alcohol, stress etc).
So, if you don’t have any noteworthy problems to fall asleep or sleep through disturbances and are not fighting with the problem of waking up to early, you are able to calculate your nightly sleep need. Of course, another precondition is, that you are not suffering under any sleep debt. Because, a lot of people don’t actually suffer under real sleep disturbances but have built up a chronical lack of sleep. This has a negative influence on well-being and performance, considerably increases the risk of getting illnesses including cancer, and heightens the risk of accidents by 600 (!) per cent. There are two hints for you to find out:
First: You tend to fall asleep or have noticeable “attacks of sleepiness” during the day again and again.
Second: In the evening when going to bed, you are falling asleep immediately, within two or three minutes.
These two are clear signs that you are suffering under a lack of sleep, that you are having a sleep debt. Now it is time to reduce your sleep debt. Here, you have to consider that normally it is not possible to reduce your sleep debt more than two hours in one night. When you are sleeping until lunch time during the weekend, only about two hours are deducted from your sleep debt. And — you always should try to go to bed earlier and observe whether you feel more rested the next day. When it is like that, you have reduced your sleep debt. At the same time you are approaching your biologically necessary amount of sleep.
Perfectionists might want to know it even more detailed. Here, you should be advanced in sleep coaching, already know and implement the rules for healthy, recreational sleep. Make the adjustments in steps:
First: You have reduced your sleep debt step by step so that you are doing without any bigger attacks of tiredness and don’t fall into bed dead tired in the evening and fall asleep right away.
Second: According to your chronotype “owl” (night person), “lark” (morning person) or “hummingbird” (miscellaneous type) you found out long before when your perfect sleeping time is or would be.
Third: Now plan your sleeping time so that you can sleep eight hours at least before getting up.
Fourth: Keep that sleeping time for a longer time of period (14 days, at least four nights per week, for example) and observe at what time you possibly wake up on your own or whether your alarm clock wakes you up.
Fifth: In case your alarm clock woke you, write down how you are feeling. Still tired, partly slept off or really slept off and awake and alert quicker than before.
Sixth: In case your alarm clock ended your sleep and you are still feeling tired and struggle to get up, go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
Seventh: In case you are waking up rested and fit at the desired time –- after eight hours of sleep –- try to fall asleep 15 minutes later the following night. Exactly observe: “Am I still feeling well rested?” So, with 15 minutes reduction or prolongation of your sleep duration you find out your personal sleep need.
So, sleep duration and sleep quality are two important factors on your way to a healthy, bioenergetic sleep®. A lot of people develop an illusory sense of security that they recover quickly from a chronic sleep debt and believe that sleeping more one or two nights is sufficient. Scientists have found out that the performance increases to a normal level and enough sleep is positive generally speaking, but only for the first six hours after waking up. Already in the afternoon there is a measurable break down in performance, the concentration decreases, and the degree of alertness is accordingly restricted. Out of this reason, the failure rate in job or sports significantly increases. Animal experiments also showed that a continuous chronical lack of sleep equals more and more losing the ability to compensate. So, when you are suffering under a lack of sleep you should take care and balance it. And when you did, keep in mind to not let it get too big again.
This post is also available in / Diesen Beitrag gibt es auch in: German