The Chiropractors at AICA Atlanta have no doubt that you have experienced an afternoon energy crash, uncontrollable yawning or the simple desire to close your eyes and rest.
It may be hard to remain alerted, but it’s even tougher to decipher the information we receive about sleep, the best way to get it and most importantly, how much we need.
And, it seems we’re a tired bunch; a recent Gallup poll shows that 40 percent of us get less than the currently recommended seven to nine hours. Is that really how much we need?
The truth is it depends. Your sleep needs are determined by your age, your health and how you perform with different amounts of sleep.
Think about sleep and the amount you need similar to a checking account.
Each of us has a basal sleep requirement, which is the smallest amount of regular sleep our bodies need for optimal functioning. Compare this to the sum of money you need in your checking account to maintain your lifestyle.
We also have a sleep liability, or an accumulated shortage of sleep lost to late nights, early mornings or poor sleep quality. In the financial world, sleep debt is equal to credit card debt. If you sustain a basal amount of seven to nine recommended hours most nights but don’t pay back your debt, you are in arrears.
Research shows that basal need and debt interact, causing us to feel less attentive and more drowsy at various times throughout the day that correlate to natural circadian dips, or biological indicators that tell the body sleep needs are adding up.
Now, if you think you will just find a way to sleep for longer periods to make up for lost time, don’t hit the snooze button just yet. Initial research shows more than nine hours may present an increased risk for illness, accidents and even death.
The jury is still out on whether or not other factors, such as socioeconomic status, are involved. More studies are certainly warranted.
Although we don’t yet know the precise implications of long sleep durations, studies show more conclusively that shorter sleeping lengths of four to five hours have adverse effects, both neurologically and physically.
Because of individual needs, there is no precise number of suggested hours of sleep for everyone. To determine what is best for you, make your sleep a primary concern. Try different sleep periods, making summaries of how you feel in the morning, throughout the day and when it’s time to turn in.
Always follow our suggestions for good sleep hygiene and determine the amount of sleep that results in optimal energy levels throughout the day.
And, if you have questions, contact AICA Atlanta today by filling out our online submission form or by calling us at (404) 889-8828.