As human beings, around a third of our lives are spent sleeping. If we don’t get enough good quality sleep, we’ll find ourselves unable to function properly from day to day, not to mention the impact it can have on our health.
With that in mind, it’s not uncommon to worry about how many hours of sleep we are getting each night. The amount you actually receive can be down to a number of things though, including your age, sex, health and the actions you take right before going to bed.
Only you will know whether you’re getting enough sleep – more often than not, your body will give you signs that you’re not getting enough shut-eye. There is a pattern we go through each night in order to truly feel like we’ve had a full night’s kip, and this is known as the sleep cycle. If you can make it through 4-5 sleep cycles in one night’s sleep, you’ll likely feel more refreshed. To take a detailed dive into the sleep cycle, check out our blog here.
The sleep cycle consists of four stages of sleep known as Rapid Eye Movements (or REMs), which everyone experiences during the night.
The full cycle lasts around an hour and a half, and we usually experience around four to six cycles during a full night’s sleep – when our sleep is interrupted or we have a particularly bad night, however, it usually contains fewer REM cycles.
As living beings, each day we go through a process that’s known as the circadian rhythm. This acts as an internal body clock running in our brains between cycles of alertness and drowsiness, and that controls how awake or tired we feel during the day.
In the mornings, our internal rhythm climbs, and this makes us feel alert and ready for the day. It will hit a peak as the evening draws in, and when we’ve been awake for approximately 15 hours, we start to wind down and feel the pressure to fall asleep. Once the night-time arrives, our internal rhythm drops to its lowest of the day and we then fall asleep in order to recharge our batteries.
It is important to remember that above all else, your quality of sleep is far more important than the hours of sleep you clock in – it is much more beneficial to get six hours of great sleep and wake up feeling refreshed than get eight hours of poor sleep and spend the day not functioning properly. No matter how much sleep you get, keep in mind that where you sleep is just as important; if you think your mattress or bed frame may be the issue, you may be due an upgrade.