• Blog, June 2018

How Much Sleep Do I Actually Need?

Sleep is absolutely essential for good health and overall wellbeing.

We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, however, when life gets busy, sleep is often the first thing to be sacrificed. Unfortunately, when this happens, your health is also put under pressure.

Whether it’s stress, diet, lifestyle or illness, there are many things that can affect the length and quality of sleep, and to get this balance just right needs a little knowledge and planning.

Why is sleep so important?

Getting the right amount of sleep is important to our overall wellbeing. Are you getting the recommended amount?

Getting the right amount of sleep is important to our overall wellbeing. Are you getting the recommended amount?

Good sleep is just as important for maintaining our overall health, as a balanced diet or regular physical exercise. The quality and length of sleep will affect your energy, emotions, brain and heart performance and general productivity.

Sleep is much more than time for your body to shut down. In fact, your body is hard at work while you sleep.

During sleep, your brain is working to prepare itself for the day ahead by carrying out ‘biological maintenance’ that keeps your whole body in good working order. Just like when you service your car – it changes the oil, recalibrates the brakes, checks the tyres and tunes the engine!

In the brain, experiences, emotions and information from the day are processed and committed to memory.

Your body also rebuilds the muscles that have been working all day and removes any harmful toxins in the body.

Heard of a ‘body clock’? While you’re sleeping, the body regulates the circadian rhythm, also known as your internal clock. This clock runs on a 24-hour schedule and can affect your metabolism, immune function and inflammation too.

Sounds like a lot, right? This is why your body needs not only a good length of sleep, but good quality sleep too. While there’s no clear definition for good quality sleep, it’s usually determined by how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up and how rested you feel when you wake up the next day.

What happens when sleep is neglected?

Less sleep can mean reduced cognitive functions, tiredness and even lead to sleep disorders.

Less sleep can mean reduced cognitive functions, tiredness and even lead to sleep disorders.

The Australian Sleep Association reports that at least one-third of the adult population regularly suffers from significant sleep problems, and that thirty-five per cent don’t feel refreshed when they wake in the morning.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep can lead to more problems than just feeling tired.

If you’re lacking in sleep, you can struggle to concentrate. Memory functions slow down and you can become crankier. The brain takes longer to process information and you’re less capable of making clear decisions due a reduction in normal cognitive function.

Creativity can also be hampered. A study found that getting only five hours sleep per night can decrease mental and physical performance as much as having a blood alcohol level of 0.06.

How much sleep do you actually need?

How much sleep you need depends on a number of factors and every individual has a unique need and preference.

The National Sleep Foundation breaks their sleep recommendations down by age group;

  • 0-3 Months – 14-17 hours
  • 4-11 Months – 12-15 hours
  • 1-2 Years – 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 Years – 10-13 hours
  • 6-13 Years – 9-11 hours
  • 14-17 Years – 8-10 hours
  • 18-64 Years – 7-9 hours
  • 65+ – 7-8 hours

However, there are a number of additional factors that may increase or decrease how much sleep you actually need:

Genetics – Certain genetics can affect how much sleep you need every day. Certain illnesses or genetic variations, like Autism Spectrum Disorder, may affect the timing and duration of sleep. Additionally, common sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea or insomnia can affect the quality of sleep. If you think a disorder is impacting your sleep, you should seek professional advice from your doctor.

Injuries – According to Safe Work Australia, work related injuries and illnesses between 2008 – 2009 were estimated to be worth $60.6 billion. Back, wrist and shoulder pain are the most common ailments reported by workers and can lead to disturbed sleep or insomnia if not treated properly. If you’re suffering from back pain, we think we’ve found a solution.

Bed and Mattress Quality – It’s important to get a good night’s sleep in a bed that is both comfortable and supportive. An ergonomic mattress is tailored to your individual size and shape.

Tips for a better night’s sleep

Good quality sleep is vital to good health, so it’s important to get the recommended amount per night. Here are some more tips to help you sleep well:

  • Get into a routine – Going to bed at the same time each night will help regulate and fine-tune your body clock – yes, even on weekends!
  • Stay off electronics – Your devices and TV emit light which can suppress melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep cycle and circadian rhythm), and keeps your brain awake for longer.
  • Reduce caffeine, alcohol and tobacco consumption – Caffeine, smoking and drinking alcohol can lead to poor quality sleep by affecting your body clock. A study even found that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime can reduce sleep by up to one hour!
  • Be active – Regular physical activity can help you sleep better and feel more energised for the day ahead – try out these yoga poses which will work your body and mind and assist with sleep.
  • Invest in an ergonomic mattress – An ergonomic mattress that’s tailored just for you can increase your quality of sleep by providing personalised comfort and support. An Ergolife ergonomic bed provides near-perfect support for your body and can be adjusted to suit the changing lifestyle and needs of you and your partner.

It’s important to listen to you body. Pay attention to how you’re feeing at night, when you wake up in the morning and throughout the day. Determine if you feel that you’re getting enough sleep and if you feel tired and sluggish during the day, you may need to make some changes.

Make the most of your sleep – create good habits, schedule your sleep, balance your diet and choose a good bed and mattress to create the best possible sleeping environment.

At Beds for Backs, we are so obsessed with your sleep that we have designed a one-of-a-kind, world exclusive, ergonomic bed that ensures you get the best support and rest. View our range and visit your nearest store for more details on this revolution in the sleep industry or try our Bed Selector to find the best bed for your needs and lifestyle.


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