Is there a person for whom sleeping is not a pleasure? But how much sleep do we need?
We all have an innate need for sleep, so again, some indulge in this need easily, some steal it from themselves in order to work longer, some exaggerate. You have already heard about the magic number 8 and it is really true, and how harmful is the myth about a couple of hours of sleep?
How do we know that eight hours of sleep is enough?
The science of sleep has advanced incredibly and now we have enough research to analyze what 4, 6 or 8 hours of sleeping does to the body, but also what the consequences are for it when we do not respect this length.
Additionally – not all hours are the same. While we are sleeping, we go through 3 phases, two of which are especially important for our mind and body.
The study on 48 volunteers who slept 4, 6 or 8 hours lasted two weeks, the most unfortunate were selected in the group that did not sleep for three days in a row. The results are interesting:
- Only a group of 8-hour sleepers maintained the level of cognitive and physical abilities
- Lack of sleep is a cumulative process: after two weeks, it didn’t matter if you slept for 4 or 6 hours
- After two weeks, the result of a lack of sleep is like not sleeping for three days
- People who slept for 6 hours did not notice that their cognitive ability was impaired, although it was.
The last item is important because of the dangerous trend that comes to us from workaholics around us: they do it for a couple of hours at night and are super efficient. You believe that 5 or 6 hours of sleeping are enough for us. It’s not. Just because we don’t notice that we resonate badly – doesn’t mean we do good.
Stages of sleep: deep for the body, REM for the soul
Not all the hours we spend in bed are created equal. We distinguish 3 phases of it: light, deep and REM.
A deep phase
We don’t have to go into science too much to know this: deep sleep is key to body recovery and even performance alignment.
The Stanford study measured the performance of basketball players after sleeping 10 hours every night for 5 weeks (instead of the average of 8). They shot about 9% better at both 2 and 3 points, and were faster in the 80-meter sprint. The dream helped them.
The average person has a 15-20% share of this type of sleep during 8 hours.
Rapid Eye Moment sleep is when we dream and these are the dreams we remember. On average, we will catch 3 to 5 such cycles during the evening, but we usually only remember our morning dreams. During the REM phase, the brain’s “burning” memory is activated and it is thought that then the brain sorts what is learned and so we remember. There are also much more interesting theories about the field of dreaming, but explore them yourself 🙂
It is not entirely clear how the lack of REM sleep manifests itself. There are studies that link it to obesity and memory problems, but not enough has been done.
The scientific consensus is that we need about 20% of REM sleep during the entire sleep cycle.
This is all great – will you give me an hour of REM?
Unfortunately, there is no method to choose and time how much sleep you get. Your body is smarter than you. It just looks to make up for exactly the factor you are cumulatively missing.
In other words: you just go to bed on time, and your body will do whatever it takes to provide you with enough deep and REM sleep.
What can you do to make your sleep better?
The simple answer is: live better. Quality time facilitates good sleep. This means playing sports but also refraining from bad habits
- Get rid of stimulants – because they cheat the brain: unfortunately this includes both coffee and alcohol. If you already have to, don’t take caffeine in the afternoon.
- Alcohol has been proven to make you sleep easier, but it also disturbs the quality of sleep.
- Exercise but not after 9 p.m.
- Try to use the bed only for sleeping and making love – do not watch TV, do not stare at a laptop, tablet or mobile before bed.
- Stop smoking. I really don’t want to explain this in 2021. It kills and it’s very, very harmful.
- Adjust the room temperature to 18-21 degrees Celsius.
- Mute the sounds: if you have to, use earplugs.
Be regular: always get up and lie down at the same time. This is a problem on weekends, if you practice getting stuck, shorten the line at both ends – return home earlier and get up earlier.
If you have another technique for better sleep or better dreaming, share it in the comments! Good night and / or a wonderful day!