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How many hours of sleep do we really need?

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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 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 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.

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 we feel rested, energized and ready for the day.

From all the research I´ve done, even when most experts recommend 7 to 8 hours if you do the math considering that each sleep cycle last around 90 minutes then you´ll need 7 and a half hours of sleep while others can do great with 6 hours. I consider to be more important the amount of complete cycles you get, if you wake up in the middle of a cycle you´ll feel tired but if you wake up right when it´s ending you´ll feel a lot better.

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 helps 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 helps you get good quality sleep every night is key, we´re living very fast paced and stressful days so developing a routine before you go to sleep and right when you wake up helps you improve sleep by calming your mind and relaxing your body and also helps you focus and concentrate on what you need to do every single day to stay on track and achieve your 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.

If it´s hard for you to get the 7 or 8 hours recommended try to focus on sleep cycles, how many cycles can you get each night? Try this and let us know your results by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter.

It all depends of you day and how active you are but, the most important thing to consider is to listen to your body, be aware of the signals it sends. How do you feel when you wake up? How do you feel all day long? Is there a moment when you start feeling tired? You also need to consider the other 4 principles of fitness, they all need to work together.

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Pam

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