Sleep is one of the biggest contributing factors in terms of our health. Get enough and feel great throughout the day. Get too little or too much and a day might face ruin. But with so much contradictory evidence, how much is enough?
It’s a fascinating topic for me and many other people of the world. We lie down, we close our eyes, and we drift to a faraway land of the subconscious. Sometimes, it’s the best part of our entire day or week. Sleep is wonderful and necessary.
Another fascinating topic is finding the amount of sleep that’s optimal. What really works? What will leave us feeling best for a full day of life? We hear six, seven, eight, nine, and ten hours. How does this work?
The truth is that the answer can differ for each person. Like so many areas of life, we each must find our recipe. While six hours is good enough for one person, another might require nine. Of course, studies and numbers derive from averages and generalizations, but I try to follow a few basic rules when it comes to sleep times. Try what you like.
Power naps: 20-30 minutes and nothing between 30 and 90. 20-30 minutes is what research shows are enough to give us a boost without putting us into a deep enough sleep to wake up feeling groggy.
Longer naps: If I’ve got 90 minutes and a chance to sleep (well, along with fatigue) I’ll generally drift away unrestricted. 90 minutes is the average sleep cycle, according to research. Again, each person’s cycle may vary, but it’s a number I’ve found to be effective. Research also shows that it takes an average of 15 minutes to fall asleep, so I like to make sure I’ve got 105 minutes or more.
I like to aim for quantities of 90 minutes like with my naps, again accounting for 15 minutes to fall asleep. The prior two rules apply if I wake up during the night. For instance, if I need to rise at 5:00 am and I wake at 3:30 am, I’ve had my sleep for the night. Trying to fall back asleep at this point might leave me feeling miserable when that alarm chimes at 5. I might, however, work to get a power nap of 20-30 minutes in that time frame. Usually, I’ll find that it’s easier to get up and get moving anyways.
None of this is an exact science, nor am I a scientist. But hey, those who are trying to capture the best methods of sleep are still left wondering, so I figured I’ll try what works for me. And so should you.
Most important, remember that different things will affect sleep. This includes stress, caffeine, alcohol, diet, screen time, and more. Do everything you can to set yourself up for good sleep.