Seven to nine hours of sleep a day, every day, at the same time, this is the formula of a healthy sleep. Personal differences factor into this and so does the environment. However, extensive studies show that getting too much or too little of sleep is greatly damaging for both the body and mind. And even considering individual factors, the seven-nine hour range is the best option.
Healthy Sleep Routine: How Long and How Often?
According to a massive study by the National Sleep Foundation, a healthy night’s sleep for adults should last seven to nine hours. It’s important to understand that children have other physical requirements and therefore need more sleep. Teenagers are recommended to get eight to ten hours of rest every night. Younger school-aged children need nine to eleven hours.
However, the duration of your rest isn’t the only important factor when it comes to sleep health. The consistency of your bedtime matters greatly as well. Research of sleep patterns in children shows that those who have a consistent sleep schedule show better academic results. They also exhibit a higher level of cognitive flexibility.
A similar study in adults, published in Science Reports, showed that the impact of sleep patterns consistency matters for adults as well. This particular research uncovered the connection between irregular sleep and an increased incidence of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity. All these factors contribute to the increased risk of developing heart disease.
Science clearly shows that the human body does not adjust to changing sleep schedules well. At best, people are able to get used to an hour’s change. However, even this takes time and consistent training. This means that even changing time zones when traveling can have a detrimental effect on your health and cognitive ability.
The body cannot ‘make up’ for lost sleep the next night. Oversleeping can be as bad for you as not getting enough rest. Therefore, the only formula of a healthy sleep is seven-nine hours every day, and you have to go to bed and wake up at the same time.
What Happens If You Sleep Too Little or Too Much?
To understand how important it is to get the required dose of rest every day one needs to look into sleep studies. They outline exactly what consequences you face when your body consistently misses out on sleep.
Getting too little sleep comes with the increased risks of:
- Alzheimer’s disease
Even a night of missed sleep causes a release of some proteins (beta amyloids) into your brain. They are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Feelings of loneliness
Researchers from Berkley determined that consistent sleep deprivation makes people feel more lonely. This results in social isolation, which, in turn, alters the very chemistry of your brain.
- Memory issues
Problems short and long-term memory appear as a result of your brain not having the time to form proper connections while sleeping. This can also cause mood swings and cognitive impairment.
- Heart disease
This risk increases due to hypertension and metabolic issues associated with sleep deprivation.
- Low sex drive
Not getting enough sleep does not only lower libido but also brings down testosterone levels in men. This means the matter can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Getting too much sleep is also not good for you. Recent studies show that people who sleep more than the recommended amount of time develop the same health issues as those who don’t get enough rest. This includes cognitive impairment and memory issues.
Note that when you sleep is also relevant. Research indicates that late risers have a higher risk of an early death. They are also more likely to have various mental health issues. Therefore, going to bed late is detrimental for your mental and physical health, regardless of whether you are getting the necessary seven-nine hours of sleep.
What If You Can’t Fall Asleep at Night?
High levels of stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise are the main causes of insomnia. Therefore, if you want to get your sleep schedule in order, but can’t do this because your body won’t cooperate, you need to work on these three factors.
- Use stress management tactics
For example, try mindfulness meditation or go for a long overdue vacation.
- Switch to a healthy well-balanced diet
Don’t eat a heavy meal less than two hours before going to bed and avoid stimulants of any kind. This includes, tea, coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks. Considering how alcohol affects sleep, you should avoid it in particular.
- Exercise daily
It will be best to take a walk so you can breathe some fresh air before bed. You shouldn’t do any intense workouts less than two-three hours before sleep. However, relaxing yoga is welcome.
Switching to a healthier lifestyle as well as going to bed at a reasonable hour every day is the key to avoiding health risks caused by sleep problems. Remember that consistency is key if you want to keep your body strong and resist disease.