Cheat Sheet to Sleep

7934079_xl

What is one of the most important aspects to health and ALWAYS looked over… you guessed it: Sleep! Sleep is just as important, if not more important to your health and wellness, as exercise and nutrition. Sleep gives your body a chance to recover, a chance to catch up, and a chance to process the day. Sleep directly impacts your mental sharpness, productivity, emotions, creativity, your physical health, and even your weight!

You are listening now, huh? Weight… Yes it can help you manage your weight!

“Ever noticed how when you’re short on sleep you crave sugary foods that give you a quick energy boost? There’s a good reason for that. Sleep deprivation has a direct link to overeating and weight gain. There are two hormones in your body that regulate normal feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin sends signals to the brain when you are full. However, when don’t get the sleep you need, your ghrelin levels go up, stimulating your appetite so you want more food than normal, and your leptin levels go down, meaning you don’t feel satisfied and want to keep eating. So, the more sleep you lose, the more food your body will crave.” (www.helpguide.org)

It can also help your exercise and muscle fatigue. According to WebMD:

“During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle, and appears to strengthen the immune system.”

I know, sometimes there is just not enough time in the day, which normally means that sleep is the first item to go!

So how many hours of sleep are you getting? Is it quality snooze time?

Let’s debunk a myth… Are you that person that only needs 6 hours or less? According to the University of California, San Francisco (helpguide.org):

“Researchers discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to do well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.”

We all have been told to get your 8 hours of sleep a night, but ther is a science behind it. The actual number is between 7.5-9. Now, what happens when you do not have enough time for that many hours. What do you do? Napping is a good option if time permits and that will be discussed later. Well, just like you should plan your exercise and food, you should also plan your sleep. Your average sleep cycles are as follows:

  • 1st Cycle: 70-100 Min (1 hour 10 min to 1 hour 40 Min)
  • 2nd Cycle and beyond: 90-120 Min

If you average these, your normal sleep cycle is right around 90 Min. If you wake up in the middle of one of these cycles you will most likely feel groggy and exhausted. If you wake up on the back end or beginning, you will wake up ready to take on the world. So if you only have 7 hours until you have to wake up, set your alarm one hour early and sleep 6 instead. Try it, you might just feel more refreshed than if you slept in!

Finally, napping. If 7.5 hours was not an option the night before, this might be for you. Napping has many benefits from boosting energy, improving memory, and help with daily function. You do not need a whole lot of time. There are different types of naps and listed below is the cheat sheet for what to expect from each.

Here is your Sleep Cheat Sheet:

  • Goal time for adults is 7.5-9 hours
  • If not enough time, plan on one of the following to not wake up groggy:

o   4.5 hours

o   6 hours

  • Napping benefits

o   Quick Boost in Alertness: 10-20 min of nap or eye rest (close your eyes)

o   Cognitive Memory Processing: 60 Min but you might be a little groggy on waking

o   For creativeness, emotional refuel and procedural memory: 90 min which is a full sleep cycle

 

If you get anything out of this, remember this: Good Sleep = Better Health.

If you want more information check out these great resources that helped with this article:

http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-101

http://happytruelife.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/alternative-sleep-cycles-7-10-hours-are-not-needed/