Feb 25, 2008

How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?

Having sufficient sleep is so important to everyone, yet we often have a hard time getting enough sleep. In fact, not enough sleep can lead to dangerous consequences. Insufficient or poor quality sleep can have effects such as:

Decreased alertness and attentiveness

Increased irritability and relationship difficulties

Decreased concentration and judgment

Decreased performance and productivity

But just how much sleep does everyone need? According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no set answer. The amount needed will be different for everyone. But they suggest one way to determine how much sleep you need: Simply go to bed when you feel tired, and get up when you feel ready -- don't set an alarm clock. For a few days, you might be sleeping more if you've been deprived of sleep. But once you catch up, your body will tell you just how many hours you need to restore yourself each night. Once you've learned this important fact about yourself, you can adjust your schedule accordingly. But to do this experiment you may need to take a vacation or plan to have someone to help with your children.

And according to the NSF, naps can be a good thing. A 15- to 20-minute nap can be can help your alertness and memory, and reduce feelings of fatigue. Napping is a good way for exhausted parents to take the edge off their tiredness. But remember, in the long term a nap is not a substitute for a good night's sleep.


No comments: