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  • Writer's pictureIan Thornley

How much sleep do I need?

Sleep is vital to our well being and the quality of sleep we get can have a direct influence on the waking part of our lives - both physical and mental. In fact good quality sleep can have a beneficial impact on creativity, productivity, your immune system, stress, your memory and may even help keep excess weight off. Can you think of anything else you do that gives so many benefits for so little effort? I know I can't.

So given all this why is lack of sleep a problem. We are living increasingly busy, 24 hour a day lives and in the age of 24 hour a day TV and shopping there are always distractions to keep us awake. Couple that with flick of a switch light and the lure of mobile phones and other electronics at bedtime it is little wonder that we may be getting less sleep on average than a few generations ago.

So how much sleep do you need?

The consensus seems to be that adults should take 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night in order to maintain health, with children needing significantly more - upto 14 hours a day as a 2 year old coming down to 8-10 hours for a older teenager.

Why? Well as well as providing the opportunity for the body to rest it is thought that it is a time that the brain can stay active and perform many maintenance tasks, keeping our biological system running smoothly, as well as cementing memories and learning.

So you might say - I survive on 6 hours a night in the week but catch up when I lie in at the weekend. That's ok then isn't it?

The simple answer is no. Even a loss of an hour of sleep can have a negative impact on productivity, memory and overall function. And unfortunately that weekend lie in won't bank you hours for you to 'use' during the week. Studies have shown that sleep banking in this way just isn't a thing and the body doesn't recognise those extra hours and your function will be just as reduced.

So what are the signs you're not getting enough?

- struggling to get up in the morning

- getting drowsy after meals and when driving

- falling asleep while watching TV in the evening

- needing to sleep in at the weekends

- finding it difficult to concentrate at work

and are many more.

Do any of these ring true? If so then maybe think about going to bed half an hour earlier each night consistently for a couple of weeks and see if that makes a difference. You will probably find that you feel more energetic and function better.

And don't worry about not getting everything done if you have more sleep. You will be far more productive if you are not tired so will get more done in less time and and earn yourself the time for the important things in life!

If this blog has helped you and you try sleeping a little more why not drop me a message and let me know how you get on.

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