It is no surprise that many of us have been trying to figure out how to sleep longer. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc on people’s lives all around the world, affecting everything from jobs to relationships, families to finances. But it has stealthily also impacted how we sleep, according to a recent study by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI, which found that 63 percent of respondents say their sleep quality and quantity has deteriorated since the epidemic began.
But, when it is time for you to go to bed, how can you obtain a better night’s sleep and return to something resembling normalcy? It can help you figure out why you can’t sleep for as long as you’d like in the first place. Is it your bed or the way your room is set up? Is it your age or your nutrition to blame? Is it possible that it’s anxiety or stress? It could even be a more serious sleep issue, such as sleep apnea, which would necessitate medical attention. If you can pinpoint what’s causing your sleepless nights, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to sleep for extended periods of time.
How many hours do we need to put in?
To answer that question is actually not as straightforward as you think. In fact, your circadian rhythm determines how much sleep you require. The 24-hour body clock is responsible for regulating a wide range of bodily activities, including appetite, blood pressure, temperature, and, most importantly, the amount of sleep you need. According to the BBC, while certain people, such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, may get by on as little as four hours of sleep every night, the majority of us need much more. Asking a question like how many hours do we need to sleep is similar to asking someone about what style of hair they are looking forward to in three years time; it changes as you grow and it is different for everyone.
For instance, teenagers actually require an average of eight to ten hours of sleep per night, while those under the age of 50 can usually get by on seven to eight hours. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, people over 50s should get at least six to seven hours of sleep, but the over 65s will wake up considerably sooner than younger people due to an increased likelihood of sleep disorders and other age-related medical difficulties interrupting their sleep. Indeed, as we grow older, our body clocks reset, causing us to wake up half an hour earlier for each decade we have lived.
While the amount of sleep you require changes as you get older, calculating your sleep demands in terms of hours required is not the most ideal way to do it. The more important question to ask yourself is whether or not you feel rejuvenated after you wake up from your sleep every day. If you answered yes and wake up feeling refreshed and go through the day without napping, your sleep is probably adequate for you.
If it isn’t however, you might be suffering from sleep debt. Yes, sleep debt! You may not believe it but it is an actual condition in which you don’t get enough good sleep and end up with a deficit, like a quota you have to fill every day. According to the CDC, sleep deprivation can cause not only chronic weariness and decreased productivity, but also mood changes and anxiety. It also emphasises the importance of obtaining adequate sleep as well as the consequences of failing to do so.
With that being said, it is very important to listen to your body as it is the only one that you will have in your lifetime.
So what can we do?
Below are a few tips and tricks that we can actively do to improve our quality of sleep.
Harvard Medical School advises getting at least an hour of natural light each day, as well as engaging in some activity that raises your heart rate and causes you to become out of breath, as this is beneficial to both your body and mind. To avoid being disturbed, make sure your bedroom is as quiet and light-free as possible. It’s also vital to consider the temperature. High humidity can lower the length of time the body spends in REM sleep, the period of sleep that helps the body rejuvenate and recover, according to a 1999 study published in the journal Sleep.
According to Medical News Today, light significantly influences the circadian rhythm, which aids the brain and body in determining when it is evening. When it’s time to go to bed, try to keep the room as dark as possible.
Diet Diet Diet
According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, a diet high in saturated fats and sugar leads to lighter, less restorative sleep. Limit your intake of unhealthy, processed foods and strive for a more balanced diet that includes frequent exercise and a less sedentary lifestyle. Not just alcohol, but even caffeine-based stimulants like tea and coffee, should be consumed in moderation. Lessen your consumption of other liquids as well to reduce the likelihood of needing to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Zack Yong is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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