How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Need?
Sleep is a welcome respite from the busyness of daily life, which seems to be becoming intense and high-octane with every passing year. Thus, it is important to know the optimum amount of sleep your body and mind require, and also how much sleep we can get away with and still function in a productive and high-quality way.
Is 4 Hours Of Deep Sleep Good?
Yes, 4 hours of deep sleep is good, once you get there (more below), although research suggests that somewhere in the vicinity of seven to nine hours is best. Many are not quite getting into that ballpark and that’s a problem; the kind of internal repairs, cellular and cerebral, that occur during sleep are essential to long-lasting good health. It’s not all about the quantity, though; quality is equally if not more important, ie. four hours of solid uninterrupted deep sleep is preferable to eight hours of tossing and turning, sleeping in fits and starts.
This is to do with the four phases of sleep that your body passes through, each one filtering into the next; in fact, due to the strange cycles of sleep you’ll be traversing through all four stages repeatedly throughout several hours’ sleep; at certain times you’ll either be in a lighter or deeper phase of sleep. The fourth phase, known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is well known, the first three less well known – NREM (non-rapid eye movement), for your information.
Is 2 Hours Of Sleep Better Than No Sleep?
Obviously, 2 hours’ sleep is worse than 4 hours’ sleep, and so on; however, if you understand the phases that occur when you are asleep it might be encouraging if 2 hours is all you can get.
- Stage 1 occurs during about ten minutes in; your body is transitioning between the conscious and unconscious state of being; your muscles are relaxing and the conscious side of your brain is beginning to power down.
- Stage 2 occurs soon after Stage 1 and endures for thirty to sixty minutes. It is the point at which your brain goes into slow-wave activity and is when your brain is gliding into a deeper, more restful sleep.
- Stage 3 is when you get to the deep stage, lasting for twenty to forty minutes. It’s otherwise known as delta sleep or slow-wave sleep; it is what helps you to feel thoroughly refreshed the next day. During this phase, you are the least responsive to noises coming from outside.
- REM Sleep is when you enter an even deeper stage of sleep, in which your eyes make rapid movements beneath your eyelids, your muscles are virtually paralyzed and your brain is more active than usual. You will tend to have vivid dreams and experience a faster heart rate and breathing. This can go on for an hour.
So the answer to the FAQ is yes, 2 hours of sleep is better than no sleep. However, there is this strange phenomenon of REM that occurs next, and it is unlikely you’ll get much into it if you only manage to have 2 hours of sleep.
Young people are more prone to REM than adults, with babies even spending about half their sleeping life in it! Adults, by contrast, will only spend about a quarter of their sleeping time in it. Stages 1 to 3 have to occur first, though, and that is why you need several hours rather than two or four hours, in order to get as much REM as possible.
The benefits are multitudinous. It helps memories to be stored properly, vital if you’re studying, controls hormones and skin quality, bolsters your immune system, maintains blood sugar level (which affects weight), lessens the chance of contracting a chronic condition of some kind, and the list goes on.
How Do I Get To Sleep Quicker?
Work is actually a blessing in disguise because it forces you into a time routine, which is exactly what the body needs in order to get the right amount and quality of sleep. When you’re not working, try and stick to some sort of routine; it helps get the body used to what it needs to be doing each night, ie. sleeping.
Napping is a killer; avoid it like the plague – it’s on a par with unhealthy snacks which ruin your main mealtimes. Screens are also bad news; the blue light exposure disrupts your natural circadian rhythms which align themselves to the natural light occurring in the atmosphere. Phones and tablets should not rear their ugly heads before bedtime; books are your sleeping friends.
Fiber-heavy foods are best in the evening; lots of oats, brans, natural veg, etc. are especially important the closer you are to sleep. Breathing is also key; slow, deep breathing can help your body to begin its shut-down process; relaxation audio tracks might be useful but make it’s coming through earphones – no blue light!