We know that sleep is vital for our overall health, and that good, REM, restful sleep is optimal in achieving its best benefits. But, how much sleep should we be having each night? Does a solid few hours of deep sleep have greater benefits, or less, than a longer bout of interrupted or light sleep? How long do we need to keep up consistent restful sleep to experience benefits?
Let’s work through it, a question at a time.
How long should you be sleeping each night?
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, adults aged 26-64 years of age should, ideally, have seven to nine hours of restful sleep a night, an hour either side of that (six to 10 hours’ sleep) is also ok, and anything under six or over 10 is not recommended. This is due to the body’s requirements; six hours gives it enough time to do what it needs to do, +10 hours is too much, and can start to create counterintuitive symptoms, such as fatigue.
However, there are always individual caveats that may mean this isn’t always the best length of time for you to sleep. There is not a lot of well researched information on why there are variabilities for some individuals, who may feel active, alert and healthy with more or less hours than recommended, only that it does exist. The guidelines are sleeping goal patterns when under- or oversleeping is having a detrimental effect on your life.
What is better: restful sleep for fewer hours, or lighter sleep for longer periods?
Typically, shorter bouts of deep sleep are more beneficial to your health and wellbeing than consistent broken or light sleep, even if you’re in a state of light sleep for longer periods. It is of course optimal to achieve the recommended hours of sleep, in an REM state. However, you are likely to feel far more rested, alert and rejuvenated if you have had a decent sleep. Conversely, you’ll likely feel fatigued and as though you had no sleep if your sleep patterns are light.
How long do we need to keep up consistent restful sleep to experience benefits?
There is no magic number of consistent well slept nights that will achieve optimal health and wellbeing; however, ‘consistent’ is the operative word. The longest bout of restful sleep over seven to nine hours, the better. If you’re used to light, broken or no sleep, and have one great night’s sleep, you may actually feel worse than you normally do. However, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t beneficial, so much as your body is not used to it, may be starved of it, and wants more! It’s better to not engage in napping or an earlier bedtime in the beginning; regulate your sleep patterns and over time work to the goal of recommended hours. It’s not always going to be perfect, and life will interrupt your sleep intentions; it’s all about doing the best with the night in front of you, as best you can. Learn more about why sleep is important for overall health.
Importantly, we understand that sleeping simply does not come easily for all, despite how tired you might be. Talk to us today about ways we can assist with preparing your physical and mental state for more optimal sleep patterns.