Not Enough Sleep

How do you know if you’re getting not enough sleep? You might feel sleepy during the day, or you may have carbohydrate cravings in the afternoons to boost your energy levels. The problem, though, is that getting too much sleep is similar to getting not enough sleep. You can feel just as tired, as if you’re getting not enough sleep, when you sleep more than you need.

So, how do you know if you’re getting too much sleep, not enough sleep, or sleep that’s just not good enough when you’re actually sleeping? One way to do this is to experiment a little with your sleeping times. You can figure out how much sleep you actually need by working with your body. Know that your body will tell you when you’re getting not enough sleep and when you’re getting too much sleep if you learn to recognize the difference in your symptoms for each problem.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The problem with trying to figure out if you’re getting not enough sleep is that there are different recommendations out there for how much sleep you can get. The old adage is that everyone needs about eight hours of sleep at night, but science is showing this just isn’t true anymore. Little kids and teenagers need at least eight and up to ten or more hours a night. Adults in their twenties to fifties can need, on average, anywhere from six and a half to nine hours a night, with women normally needing a bit more than men, and adults over sixty or so usually need less – not more than seven hours a night.

What’s the average amount of sleep needed by American adults? Seven hours. So if you’re getting eight hours of sleep a night, you may actually be getting too much sleep instead of not enough sleep.

The amount of sleep you need is very individual, and it will probably depend on your situation in life. Your sleep needs are determined by your genetics, your activity level, and even the stress that’s going on in your life. For instance, during sleep, your body repairs the physical and mental effects of stress, so you may need a little more sleep if life is particularly stressful. When you’re ill or coming down with something – or if you’re a pregnant woman – your usual amount of sleep may actually be not enough sleep.

Experiment to See if You’re Getting Not Enough Sleep

If you feel you’re getting not enough sleep, run an experiment to see what your body needs. You should either go to sleep or wake up at the exact same time every day for two weeks. Your choice will probably depend on what your daily schedule is like. If you choose to go to sleep at the same time, wake up whenever your body naturally wakes up, and if you choose to wake up at the same time, go to sleep every night as soon as you’re tired.

As you work through this experiment, you’ll most likely find that you settle into a normal schedule. By listening to your body’s signals about tiredness, you’ll be able to tell when you’re getting not enough sleep, too much sleep, or just the right amount of sleep.

If you’re curious about other ways to make sure you’re getting out of the “not enough sleep” rut, check out the book Sleep Well and Tight. It’s got lots of information on different sleep problems and solutions, including natural solutions and habits that will make it easier for you to sleep. It’s definitely information worth having if you struggle with sleeping at all.

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"The result of the struggle between the thought and the ability to express it, between dream and reality, is seldom more than a compromise or an approximation." - M. C. Escher