How many hours do you need to sleep to be healthy?

 How many hours do you need to sleep to be healthy?

We spend a third of our life sleeping. Sleep is very important for health since it allows you to recover, both physically and psychologically. However, we are not all equal when it comes to sleep; the ideal length of sleep varies greatly from one individual to another. Some people, like Celine Dion, turn out to be heavy sleepers (12 hours a night), while others seem to be designed to only need 5 hours of sleep. The record in this area is held by an Australian who sleeps three and a half hours a night!

  • Is it possible to sleep too much, or conversely, not enough? Shouldn't we just listen to our needs?

Why are we sleeping?

We sleep because we are active and get tired. When our body is exhausted, we can no longer work. Each living being (composed of cells with a nucleus), has a circadian cycle (biological rhythm of about 24 hours) characterized by the alternation of phases of sleep and wakefulness. The management of this wake-sleep cycle depends on our internal biological clocks, which are sensitive to light. They have synchronized, over time, with nature's light-dark cycle.

Sleep is necessary for life. Indeed, an experiment carried out with rats (which, strangely, have genes and behaviors similar to those of humans) has shown that the latter die when, in the laboratory, they are prevented from sleeping for a period of 1 to 4 weeks. Humans would therefore be programmed to sleep every day, for one "long phase" (6 to 8 hours at night), or for two "short phases" (5 to 6 hours at night and 1 to 2 hours). the afternoon).

How many hours of sleep should I sleep?

The ideal amount of sleep is biologically different for each person. The norm for an adult is 7-8 hours, but in reality it varies between 3 and 12 hours.

Also, the older we get, the less sleep we need. A baby will need, on average, 15 to 20 hours of sleep compared to 10 to 12 hours for a child. In contrast, an adolescent will normally need 9-10 hours and an adult will only need 7-8 hours. An older person, on the other hand, needs very little sleep.

Our need for sleep is also determined, in large part, by hereditary dispositions. So you can't choose the ideal amount of sleep to feel good. Indeed, it has been proven that if we reduce our sleep time by just one hour for several nights, a feeling of fatigue and exhaustion will be felt during the day. Likewise, conversely, if we prolong our usual sleep by an hour, the quality of the latter will be poorer and will result in frequent awakenings.

As a result, the amount of sleep we need is that which allows, during the day, to engage in a long activity while seated, while remaining focused and without drowsiness. It therefore becomes essential to know yourself well in order to find the ideal duration of sleep. But how do you know if you've slept enough or too little? A good test to know your pace is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • In the morning, do I feel tired or in good shape?

  • During the day, do I experience periods of drowsiness?

  • Am I having trouble fixing my attention on something during the day?

Of course, if you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you need more sleep than you do now. If, on the contrary, you answered "no", your amount of sleep is fine for you.

Am I a small or a heavy sleeper?

In order to better understand how much sleep is right for you, it is useful to know if you are a short sleeper or a heavy sleeper. As a rule, the clues do not deceive.

You are therefore a little sleeper if:

you are in relatively good shape after a night of little sleep (3 or 4 hours);

on vacation or on weekends, you don't get much more sleep than during the year;

sleeping 8 hours is considered the maximum amount of sleep for you;

you don't like hanging out in bed when you wake up.

Conversely, you are a heavy sleeper if:

  • you find it very difficult to sleep very little;

  • on vacation or on weekends, you sleep much longer than during the year;

  • 8 hours of sleep is often not considered a full night's sleep;

  • you usually limit your outings based on how much sleep you need.

  • The quantity of your sleep versus its quality

However, whether you are a short sleeper or a heavy sleeper, the amount of your sleep will count relatively little if its quality is impaired. Indeed, you can feel in perfect shape after only 5 hours of rest if your sleep has been deep and restful. Conversely, 10 hours may not be enough if your night has been dotted with frequent awakenings and your sleep has remained light.

Some tips for a good sleep

It should be understood that the body needs to "settle" quietly towards sleep. Therefore, it is recommended to institute a small ritual in the evening in order to accustom your body to relax before sinking into the arms of Morpheus. Thus, certain precautions or habits should be adopted. Here are some ideas.

Avoid eating too late and too fatty

The body slows down in the evening. Digestion therefore takes place more slowly. Avoid eating a meal that is too large or too fatty in the evening, so as not to strain your digestive organs, which you will require extra effort to accomplish their usual task.

Avoid eating too spicy, caffeinated, or sweet

Ginger, pepper, curry and chili, to name just a few, are spices that stimulate the body. The same is true for sugar and caffeine. So avoid consuming these ingredients at the end of the day.

Regular wake-up and bedtime

Try to stick to regular waking and going to bed times. Your body will quietly condition itself to fall asleep when the time is right.

Avoid any stimulation

Whether playing sports, watching an action movie, having an intense conversation with your partner or thinking about a scary situation, it is recommended to avoid anything that could create too much stimulation. or even stress before going to bed. Your body will tend to want to evacuate this excess excitement during sleep, which will cause frequent awakenings.

The importance of ritual

Try to establish a calming ritual for your body. Thus, drinking a hot beverage (decaffeinated), making yourself comfortable for a light reading, taking a hot bath or listening to soft music are all examples that will promote good sleep.

Spend your energy well during the day

Deep, restful sleep will undoubtedly happen if you are also active during the day. A day of lying down without expending energy will most likely result in less sleep at night.

Avoid disruptors when sleeping

There are four main phases of sleep:

  • the sleepiness
  • light sleep
  • deep sleep
  • REM sleep.

We recover during deep sleep.

 Thus, it is essential to allow the body to reach this phase since it allows the body to repair itself and gain strength. If this is the case, try to resolve the presence of the agents that disrupt your sleep (a noise, a smell, a light, a child who wakes up too often, an animal, a spouse who moves too much, etc.) that will interfere with achieving deep sleep.     

Avoid too high or too low an ambient temperature

Find a comfortable temperature for your bedroom and make sure it stays constant overnight. In addition, increasing the oxygen supply, by opening the window a little, is a simple and very effective recommendation to promote restful sleep.

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