Is 6 hours of sleep enough?
Is 6 hours of sleep enough to get the quality, restorative rest your body needs? This answer comes in two parts: no, if it’s a long-term solution to a busy life and your aim is to function at your best, and yes if you occasionally need to squeeze in some more hours in your day (the emphasis being occasionally).
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a healthy adult should get around 7-9 hours of sleep each night, where teens, tweens, and toddlers around 8-14 hours of sleep. We know that finding the time for a good night’s sleep isn’t easy, but let’s explore why it is so crucial and why getting only 6 hours of sleep isn’t sustainable over the long term to perform at our best.
Will only 6 hours of sleep make you tired?
Sleep experts say that if you’re getting less than 8 hours of sleep each night, it could be a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation. You may be thinking that 6 or 7 hours sounds pretty good in today’s fast-paced world (where there’s already too little time in the day), but the long-term effects can be damaging.
Did you know that it is possible to be sleep deprived without realising it? If you’ve made a habit of shaving hours off your sleep, you may not even remember what it feels like to be truly wide awake, fully alert, and firing on all cylinders.
Most of the signs of sleep deprivation are much more subtle than falling asleep at the dinner table. Maybe it feels normal to get sleepy when you’re at work, struggling through the afternoon slump, or dozing off after dinner, but the truth is that it’s only “normal” if you’re sleep-deprived.
The key to good sleep is spending enough time in the different sleep stages. While each stage of sleep offers different benefits, it’s particularly important to get quality sleep during stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep, in which the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead) and stage 5, mood-boosting REM sleep.
Reaching these restorative stages requires you to transition through a full sleep cycle, which typically lasts 90-120 minutes. To wake up feeling rested, you’ll ideally need to cycle through at least four or five full cycles per night.
How much sleep do you need?
There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can survive on and the amount of sleep that allows you to function properly. Feeling like you can operate on 6 hours of sleep doesn’t mean that you’re at your best.
If you’re aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, using a sleep calculator can help you figure out what time to go to bed based on your wake-up time. This can help wake you up at the end of your sleep cycle, which is when you’re most likely to feel the most rested, giving you the perfect dose of sleep.
Are you getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night?
Poor sleep or a lack of sleep can often be attributed to several factors. From taking sleep for granted to the food you consume before bedtime. Sleep problems can be widespread and often leave a trail of side effects in their wake, such as mood swings, low energy levels, daytime sleepiness, and weight gain, just to name a few.
Here are a few things that could affect the quality of your sleep:
What you put into your body can affect your sleep. Avoid any stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and stick to smaller meals close to bedtime. While eating before bed won’t directly impact the quality of your sleep, it can cause heartburn or affect indigestion that can keep you up at night.
Working shift hours
If you are a shift worker, you could have difficulty establishing a sleep routine. While some people do adjust to alternative sleeping habits better than others, shift work can influence your circadian rhythm and drastically reduce the amount of sleep you get.
Stress disrupts sleep. Your mental health is important, and you deserve to sleep soundly without waking in the middle of the night. Give yourself a chance to relax and unwind before bed and find techniques to cope with stress if it is stopping you from getting quality sleep.
Sleep apnea, night terrors, and insomnia can have a long-term effect on our sleeping patterns. If you suffer from a chronic sleep disorder that stops you from receiving a good night’s sleep, consider talking to your GP to determine what you can do to get back to bed.
Sleep better at night
At the end of the day, 6 hours of sleep isn’t enough. The side effects that come with long-term lack of sleep, such as physical health issues and compromised mental abilities, are reason enough to ensure you prioritise getting your recommended amount of z’s.
Every hour of sleep you get has an impact on your overall health. Living a better lifestyle starts with getting good sleep, tonight.