We all know that we’re supposed to get in eight hours of sleep a night. But that’s not always possible, and for some it doesn’t feel necessary.
While some people would say they might need more than the magic number, others would say anything between five and seven is enough.
However, new research suggests that those that get just five hours of sleep a night are increasing their likelihood of chronic illness.
Medical journal PLoS Medicine tracked the sleep habits of more than 7,000 civil servants in the UK over the course of 25 years.
During their follow-ups, participants were checked for chronic conditions, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Participants were asked how many hours of sleep they get every day and some also wore a wrist tracker.
The results of the study showed that those who had five hours or less sleep around the age of 50, had a 30% greater risk of multiple conditions than those who slept seven hours.
At this age, sleeping for five hours or less was also associated with a higher risk of chronic disease and death.
But bear in mind, it’s not just about lying in bed for more than five hours while drifting in and out of sleep – it’s the quality of sleep that matters.
You need at least 2 hours of deep sleep.
Experts say sleep is divided into two categories: REM and non-REM sleep. You start the night in non-REM sleep followed by a brief period of REM sleep. The cycle continues throughout the night about every 90 minutes.
Deep sleep offers many benefits for our overall health. From giving your brain a break from firing at such an intense speed, to helping to organise your memories, and even flushing waste from your brain.
‘During deep sleep, the glucose metabolism in the brain increases, which can improve our memory and learning ability,’ says Steve Adams, CEO at Mattress Online.
In addition, deep sleep supports growth and development of the body, cell regeneration, energy restoration, repairing tissues and bones, and the immune system.’
Tips to help, include:
- Reverse psychology – if you try to stay awake, your body can paradoxically start to shut down
- Eat sleep-boosting foods – enjoy magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains, dark chocolate, fatty fish, nuts, bananas and avocados
- Invest in good bedding – Bedding that is 100% cotton that is breathable and soft is ideal
- Work on your breathing – Slow breathing at six breaths per minute is proven to be the most effective breathing technique to sleep well
- Calm your mind – essential oils and the smell of lavender can help to promote restful sleep
Let’s hope for some sound sleep tonight.