Sleep – How Much Is Enough? – Part 1

Too much sleep can impact productivity negatively and is even inimical to health in a number of different ways. However more and more research is pointing to the fact that too little sleep is bad for us in ways ranging from causing weight gain to causing heart attacks.

It can be a delicate balance to achieve – that optimal amount of sleep that gives enough rest to the body, gives time for healing, helps maintain proper hormonal balances within the body and helps a person live a long and healthy life.

Sleep  How Much Is EnoughWe have spoken before about how sleep deprivation can impact health – it can reduce one’s ability for heavy or prolonged exercises and can negatively impact one’s fitness programs.

Recent research bears this out – a recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that too little sleep can lead to weight gain.

Not sleeping enough can mean that one may end up eating more calories but that those extra calories may not get burnt.

According to study leader Marie-Pierre St-Onge of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital sleep deprivation can sabotage weight loss efforts.

So how much sleep is enough sleep?

The general sleep requirement for adults is supposed to be 7 to 8 hours (with pregnant women needing more than 8 hours of sleep per day), however this may not apply to everyone. Many people seem to need as much as 10 hours of sleep a day and some may need as little as 6 hours or less; i.e. the optimum requirement per 24 hours may differ.

Quality of sleep

Also it isn’t just the amount that you sleep, but the quality of sleep that you have that determines whether you have had enough and whether you will wake up refreshed and energized.

Further there are the 5 phases of sleep that we need to go though in a night of sleep to get the best out of our nocturnal rest. If these 5 phases are interrupted for any reason, you may end up waking tired and unrefreshed.

It is the circadian rhythms of a person that determine when and how much we should sleep. Sleeping at the wrong time of day (as in the case of people who work at night and so on) or not sleeping for adequate length of time may result in not enough restful sleep.

According to research, it is one’s circadian temperature, melatonin rhythms, sleep, and neurobehavioral function that determine one’s sleep requirement and quality.

Next week we look at how to determine how much sleep you as an individual need and why.