The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person, with most adults needing 7-9 hours of sleep. Some people function well on the lower end of the spectrum, others find they need to be at the higher end to feel well rested.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it impacts more than just how tired you feel. It changes how well you are able to function during the day. Lack of sleep can slow response times, as well as increase the number of mistakes you make. In addition, not getting enough sleep can cause stress to seem greater, and increase the chance of your mood being negative. If you continue to miss out on sleep, these reactions become increasingly present. There are distinct physical health risks for those who are chronically sleep deprived as well including increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
How can you tell if you need more sleep? Look for these signs:
You fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
You struggle to wake up in the morning.
You often feel tired or foggy when sitting still for more than a few minutes.
You have difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
There are steps you can take to improve the sleep you get. Start by setting a scheduled sleep time. Go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends. It helps to establish a routine leading up to bedtime to help signal your body that sleep is coming, such as reading or taking a warm bath. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine for at least four hours before bedtime. Getting exercise during the day can help you to rest better at night, but remember not to exercise too close to bedtime! Also, create a restful bedroom. This may mean room darkening curtains, comfortable bedding, a fan, or white noise if needed. Finally, try going to bed 15 minutes early every night for a week. Increase by 15 minutes each week until you begin to wake feeling rested.
If you are still having difficulty sleeping, or wake feeling groggy, you may wish to consult a healthcare professional for further recommendations.