If you asked a room full of people how much sleep they get on average, the answers will vary widely. Not only that, but there will also be varying opinions on whether or not each person is getting the sleep they need.
On the surface, sleep is a simple concept. We all do it. We lay (or sit) down for several hours a day, close our eyes, and drift off. In reality, sleep is quite complex. There are a lot of things going on while we sleep.
The concept of eight hours of sleep is just that…a concept. Some of us get quite a bit more. Others get less. We all have different sleep needs. This is impacted by health, sex, age, even our sleep environment. Our sleep needs change throughout our lives. Infants and toddlers need several hours of sleep throughout the night as well as naps. Teenagers don’t need significantly more sleep, but do better with a later bedtime and rising later in the morning. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours each night.
Understanding The Sleep Cycle
There are several different stages of sleep. In order to get a restorative sleep, you need to spend enough time in each stage.
The first stage is called non-rapid eye movement sleep or NREM. This can be subdivided into three successive stages NREM1, NREM2, and NREM3. If you’ve just dozed off and were easily awakened by your phone ringing or other noise, you were probably in NREM1 or NREM2 sleep. If you are woken from the NREM3 stage of sleep, you’ll be fuzzy and disoriented. It’s not very pleasant.
What Type of Snorer Are You?
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You’ve probably heard of the final stage of sleep. This is rapid eye movement sleep or REM. This is the stage of sleep where we have dreams. It’s characterized by the fluttering movement of your eyes behind your eyelids.
In most cases, you’ll spend about an hour and a half at each stage of sleep. If you don’t experience each of these four stages of sleep, you won’t feel well-rested when you get up. Have you ever slept for hours, but still felt exhausted when you woke up? You may not have gone into a deep enough sleep for a long enough period of time.
Snoring and sleep apnea can cause sleep cycle issues. Both can cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night. This disrupts the sleep cycle, and leaves you exhausted in the morning. Worse, you may not even realize your sleep is being disrupted because you may only wake up for a couple of seconds. Still, that’s long enough to stop you from spending enough time in each cycle. Find the cause of your snoring, and the quality of your sleep will improve.
During healthy, normal sleep, you may go through each stage of sleep more than once. It’s not unusual to go through five or six cycles.
Your Circadian Rhythm
To get the hours of sleep you need, you must first deal with any issues that are impacting your sleep. Next, try to maintain a sleep schedule that matches your circadian rhythm. Our bodies operate on a natural cycle, and that includes the compulsion to sleep at certain times and stay awake during others. If our sleep patterns are coordinated with your circadian rhythm, you are more likely to get a restful sleep.