Answering emails, eating late, finishing the laundry, checking facebook, laying in bed thinking about tomorrow’s to-do’s because maybe you had a late afternoon coffee…all of this and more affects what time we go to bed and how much sleep we’ll get.
When we don’t get enough sleep, it leads to a nasty sleep deprivation: which gives us a shorter attention span, slower reaction time (stubbed your toe again?), diminished motor skills (say goodbye to setting your next PR), poor concentration & memory and reduced decision-making skills (say hello to that donut). Not fun.
Lacking the right amount of sleep also affects our mood and appetite – a nasty mix I like to call, “HANGRY“. The American Cancer Association has found higher incidences of cancer in individuals who consistently slept six hours or less or more than nine hours nightly. New research recently reported that people who regularly sleep 7½ hours per night live longer. When you’re sleep deprived, your cortisol and hunger hormones both surge, causing a corresponding increase in insulin. You also experience decreases in leptin, melatonin, growth hormone, testosterone, and serotonin, all of which lead to weight gain.
It also increases the chances for us to get sick. When you get enough deep sleep, it allows the body to repair and regenerate tissue and to strengthen the immune system. When you miss out on that precious recovery time, your body starts to break down.
Sleep Sweet Spot
Unfortunately, last night I had a hard time falling asleep thinking too much about what I have to do today and feeling more sore than usual. According to my sleep tracker, I was in bed for 7:38 hours, but only 76% (5:33 hours) was deep sleep and I was awake 11% of of time (:45 minutes) restlessly moving around and getting up for a bathroom break and 1 hour was considered light sleep. No wonder I’m already ready for second breakfast at 9:30am. Knowing my body’s rhythm, I’ve experienced that my sleep sweet spot (deep sleep…not time laying in bed) is about 7 hours. That means I have to shut off electronics and get myself organized early.
A national panel of sleep experts just released new recommendations that call for more hours of sleep.
- Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
Whether you’re looking to improve athletic performance, think faster on your feet, lose weight, or just get in a better mood, the right amount of sleep can do the trick – take it a little more seriously and you might just reach your goals faster. What can you do right now to make sleep more of a priority in your life?
Do you know your sleep sweet spot?