Do You Sleep Less than Seven Hours a Night?
The CDC considers anyone who sleeps less than seven hours per night a “short sleeper.” This name implies that these people have not slept an adequate amount. However, there’s no perfect formula for how much you need to sleep. Some people may need to sleep seven hours to feel fully rested, and some people may need to sleep nine. Sleeping at least seven hours per night is a solid start, but you might want to check other symptoms to see if that amount is enough for you.
Do You Have Difficulty Sleeping?
Being in bed for seven hours doesn’t guarantee that you are well-rested. There are many ways that your sleep could be disturbed, such as:
- Taking a long time to fall asleep
- Waking up multiple times throughout the night
- Getting up too early
The Mayo Clinic considers these sleep disturbances possible symptoms of insomnia. Of course, most people experience these symptoms every once in a while. Transient, or temporary, insomnia is more common than chronic, months-long insomnia. A study estimates that nearly 35% of the population is experiencing transient insomnia, but only about 10 – 15% deal with chronic issues. Sleep deprivation can also be chronic or transient.
Difficulty sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean that you are sleep deprived. The next step is to look at whether lack of sleep is affecting your life negatively.
Do You Show Signs of Sleepiness?
Observing your daytime habits can help you determine if you’re sleep deprived or not. Symptoms of insomnia that occur during the day include:
- Feeling tired or sleepy during the day
- Making mistakes
- Difficulty paying attention to tasks
It’s hard to function at your best when you’re sleep deprived. Your brain may not even recognize the facial cues for happiness and sadness when you haven’t gotten enough sleep.
However, it can be hard to determine whether you are sleep deprived or “having a bad day.” One study looked at physical symptoms of sleep deprivation to help truckers determine if they were too sleepy to drive. The study found that truckers could focus on visual impairments and driving performance to determine if they were sleep deprived. “Struggling to keep eyes open” and “head dropping down” were good indicators that it was time to pull over and rest.
You can look out for these symptoms in your daily life to see whether you need more sleep too.
How to Get Enough Sleep
Most of us get sleep-deprived from time to time, but there are steps that we can take to avoid chronic sleeplessness. Redesigning your bedroom for sleep may help you rest without disturbances at night. Compare mattresses to see if yours supports your preferred sleeping position, temperature, and size. Side sleepers may need a softer mattress than back sleepers, and some people get too hot on memory foam models.
Once you’ve addressed this potential disturbance, you can focus on minimizing light and sound disruptions. Blackout curtains may obscure the lights of passing cars (which can wake you in the night). If noises bug you through the night, a white noise machine may provide the backdrop you need for better sleep.
Be a critical observer to determine if you are getting adequate sleep. Seven hours a night is a good place to start, but it might not be enough sleep for your lifestyle. If you’ve determined that you are sleep-deprived, try making your bedroom a more sleep-friendly place and incorporating relaxing evening activities like yoga and meditation. Small steps could help you get high-quality sleep.
Article by guest blogger Amy Highland.
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.