Sleep: something required to survive, function and live up to our highest potential.
Sleep: what a good amount of us wish we took more time to do.
Sleep: something low on my priority list lately.
(Boo to the third one.)
There are many different ways we look at the concept of rest. On one hand, you have the busy go-getters who see sleeping as a waste of valuable work time. On the other, the healthy living advocates and professionals who push the need for rest to the top of their priority list. Somewhere in the middle lies me.
I know I need sleep. I want to get sleep. I know I want to get sleep, but yet somehow I fail to make the conscious effort to get the allotted hours I need on a daily basis.
After months of unhealthy sleeping habits, the results include me being irritable, tired, and dependent on coffee every single day… not what one would say is their best self. Although I stay busy, I fully admit I am not as motivated as I once was to stay active and moving at my most productive pace. My body craves naps and I won’t think twice about a second cup of coffee late in the afternoon.
Bad, bad, and really bad.
So, how many hours of sleep a night are we talking here? 6.. 8.. ?
The facts all stem from the same number ranges. According to the National Sleep Foundation it depends on your age and here are the stats:
Okay, so I need 7-9 hours a night to be my most functional self. I would say that is accurate. I would also say I only get that much sleep two nights a week (on the weekends).
You will probably cringe when I tell you the average number of hours I get on a regular basis Mondays – Fridays. Before you do, let me preface it by explaining I get up extremely early – 4:30 a.m. and occasionally 6:30 a.m. – to teach barre classes 4-5 days a week. I have been a night owl for years and have a hard time “shutting off” at 10 p.m. when I should be putting myself to bed. I have always had a crazy routine, never consistent from one day to the next.
All right… it’s 5. On average, I get a measly five hours of solid sleep a night during the week.
After spending the afternoon and evening suffering from a severe migraine yesterday, my body reminded itself of how it functions without a healthy amount of hours resting: horribly.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our daily schedules and to-do lists, and completely forget to check off one major component: sleep. Although the chart lists sleep hours needed per age category, it’s important to realize a “magic sleep number” for you, personally.
Your Personal Sleep Hour
As each person is different, so is the amount of hours they need per night to function at their highest potential.
• Start with the recommended amount for your age. As an adult, I should need anywhere from seven to nine hours a night.
• Take note of how you function each time you get a poor night’s sleep. Are you tired? Do you rely on caffeine to get you through the day?
• Record how you function each time you get a good night’s sleep. Are you more productive? Do you have a good attitude? Are you motivated to become more active?
• Once you find a range, narrow it down to the hour amount. Note if your behavior changes on nights you get seven hours vs. nights you get nine.
My personal sleep hour is 7.5. Anywhere from seven to eight hours of good, hard, comfortable sleep will result in me waking up with a productive, go get ’em attitude and an eventful day. When I miss a few nights of good sleep, I will often try to catch up on the weekends by letting myself sleep nine or even ten consecutive hours. Although I feel good about getting rest, more than eight hours of sleep leaves me feeling just like I did as if I got five hours: groggy, lethargic and at times a bit lazy.
What You Can Do
Just like any other healthy habit you schedule into routine (such as working out or eating clean), it is important to make sleep a priority. If it is difficult to log in the hours you desire, literally write it down and schedule it into your daily calendar.
I will be the first to admit I lack in the healthy sleeping habits department. Taking note of how I have been feeling over the past few months of staying up late and waking up early, I have realized I am working against my body, rather than with it.
Where I used to accept the fact that I would get under six hours of sleep every night, I am now going to make a noticeable effort to aim for seven to eight hours… every night. Doing the math in my head, I realize this means I need to get to bed by 9:30 p.m. – which is truly unheard of in our household. But, alas, an effort is an effort and I am sure going to give it a try.
Questions of the Day
• How many hours of sleep do you need to function at your highest potential?
• Do you make sleep a priority or is it more of an after thought?