If your nighttime routine involves tossing and turning and counting sheep, you are not alone.
A study conducted by the National Geographic Channel has revealed that more than half of the American population are not getting enough sleep or healthy sleep.
1,033 Americans over the age of 18 have been questioned in the poll, and the findings revealed that more than 73% of them admitted that they were getting less than 8 hours of sleep. However, more than half of them (54%) acknowledged that they need a good 8 hours to function well the following day.
The reasons why people were finding it hard to get the proper amount of sleep range from financial stress, an increased amount of screen time, and a long list of chores that need to be done.
According to a report published by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) about sleep health in 2015, they provided several suggestions on how to improve your sleep time. As you probably know already, the time you spend sleeping is not the only crucial factor, as the quality of your sleep has a great effect on your body too.
For that reason, NSF brought together a panel consisting of sleep experts, psychologists, and scientists in order to collect a wide range of views. They decided to create groups based on ages, and they included ages 0-3 and up to 64 and older.
The panel came up with the following guidelines for the amount of sleep necessary for each age group:
However, it needs to be noted that the NSF report only serves as a guideline for people who suffer from sleep deprivation. If you feel fine with less sleep than the recommended time, or vice versa, this is probably due to your personal sleep cycle.
The quality of your sleep, however, is another topic. The human’s brain is actually quite active while we sleep, and there are 5 distinct sleep stages or sleep cycles that can help you explain why you might wake up feeling quite tired, despite getting the “right” amount of sleep hours.
Stage 1: It starts off just a few seconds after you nod off, and it typically lasts about 7 minutes. This is the state when your brain switches from a relaxed state of wakefulness.
Stage 2: It typically lasts between 10 and 25 minutes, and this is the phase when the brain is slowly transitioning into a “deep” sleep. However, it isn’t quite there yet.
Stage 3: This is the official “deep sleep” stage. You are much less responsive to your external environment in this stage, like loud noises, and it lasts about 20-40 minutes.
The brain alternates between stage 2 and stage 3 sleep throughout the night, and that might be the reason of why you wake up tired.
For example, if you go to bed at the same time every night, and you set the alarm clock at the same time every morning, and you still wake up feeling groggy every day, you might be possibly interrupting your stage 3 sleep.
What you can do is you can try to adjust your bed-time or wake-up time by 10-15 minutes for a few days to see if it makes any difference.
Still, the best way to tell if you’re actually getting enough sleep is to watch for the signs of sleep deprivation: