This is a question many of us keep asking time and time again, from what I´ve read and what I´ve seen the amount of sleep each of us need per night will vary according to different factors like our levels of stress, nutrition, exercise, age, etc; our lifestyle will determine not only the amount of sleep we need but it will determine the tools we use for each of the 5 principles of fitness to live our best life possible.
Most people in the industry and research will say that we need around 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep per night but most of us don´t get that recommend quantity some of us because we can´t and some prefer to spend time late night watching Netflix or doing other stuff.
For someone who is very active during the day, someone who trained hard in the gym, someone who has a very stressful life getting the 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep is necessary because the body and mind needs to recover from all that stress and work of the day and get ready to start over again. Someone who doesn´t exercise hard and for someone who is able to maintain stress low the entire day can get only 6 hours of sleep and feel great.
Our age also plays an important point to consider, according to the National Sleep Foundation, the younger we are the more sleep we need, children need around 9 hours, adults around 8 hours, older adults around 7 hours.
The best way to know how many hours you need is by how you feel when you wake up, if you feel rested, with energy and ready to start your day then it was enough but if it´s hard to wake up and you want to hit the snooze button over and over, if you feel tired, if you lack energy then those are signs that you need to sleep more or improve the quality.
In any case, whether it´s 7 to 8 hours or 6 hours you need to make those hours count, quality of sleep is important, you may sleep 8 hours but if you keep waking up in the middle of the night you won´t get through all the phases of sleep and your body and mind won´t recover properly so when you wake up you won´t feel rested. You may get 6 hours of sleep but if those 6 hours were great and you were able to go through all the phases in each cycle when you wake up, you feel rested, energized and ready for the day.
There´s something I need to say about sleep, from everything I´ve read and research each sleep cycle last around 90 minutes so if we consider this and the 7 to 8 hours of sleep recommended the math is not right. It is possible that most people need 7.5 hours of sleep per night, but this is not a rule. Considering sleep cycles the question for me is how many cycles of sleep do you need? And this will vary from people to people. At what time you go to sleep also a has a huge impact, some people prefer to go to sleep really late around midnight while others around 9:00 pm. We all have a best time to go to sleep and it´s different for each of us, if you sleep at the right time for you, you may need less sleep.
Quality and quantity of sleep are both important, you can make adjustments to the quantity according to your lifestyle, but you need to make sure that it´s good quality. Enough good quality sleep help you perform better throughout the day by increasing focus and concentration, increase productivity, you get better results, it´s easier to stay on track in any program and the reason for this is that your body is working the way it should, all hormones and systems are on balance, when everything is on balance everything works as it´s supposed to work and that´s when you are able to perform at peak.
Sleep is a crucial part of success in life, it makes your fitness journey a lot easier but getting enough good quality sleep is crucial for health so developing habits and a schedule that help you get good quality sleep every night is key, we´re living very fast paced and stressful days so developing a routine before we go to sleep and right when we wake up helps us improve sleep by calming our mind and relaxing our body and also help us focus and concentrate on what we need to do every single day to stay on track and achieve our goals.
If you need to sleep 7 to 8 hours but for different reasons you can´t get them, naps are a great tool, taking a nap between 12 pm to 2:00 pm can help you recover and continue with the rest of your day.
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