Studies have found that one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. Some people don’t know how much sleep they should get or simply don’t budget enough time for sleep.
The sleep calculator helps put your sleep on the right track. Use the calculator to determine an optimal sleep schedule based on your unique situation, including your age and either your bedtime or wake-up time. The sleep calculator is simple to use and helps make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time for rest.
Sleep recommendations provide an overview of how much sleep most people need, but the exact amount of sleep a specific person should get can depend on other factors, such as their overall health. A doctor is in the best position to make a detailed sleep recommendation for any individual based on their unique situation.
Why Getting Enough Sleep Matters
Sleep is critical for nearly every system of the body. Getting enough sleep each night allows your mind and body to capture sleep’s restorative benefits and avoid the consequences of sleep deprivation.
What Happens During Sleep?
From an outside perspective, all sleep may look the same, but in reality, it involves complex processes with four distinct stages that make up a sleep cycle. On a typical night, you cycle through all four sleep stages in order several times.
The first three stages of the sleep cycle are collectively known as non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM). Stages 1 and 2 are lighter sleep, with the body and mind beginning to relax and slow down. Stage 3 is deep sleep, which is believed to be vital for both physical and mental recuperation.
The fourth stage of sleep is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In this stage, most of your body is temporarily paralyzed, but brain activity dramatically increases and your eyes rapidly move behind closed lids. The most intense dreaming happens during REM sleep, which empowers memory and complex thinking when you’re awake.
In the earlier sleep cycles of the night, more time is spent in NREM sleep. In later sleep cycles, we experience more REM sleep. Researchers believe the combination of NREM and REM over the course of the night is what enables you to wake up refreshed both physically and mentally.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t properly progress through these sleep cycles. Without the proper balance of NREM and REM, you will not get the rest that you need, which can lead to widespread repercussions for your health and well-being.
The Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
The impacts of sleep deprivation can be felt in both the short and long term, and they include effects on physical, emotional, and cognitive health.
Immediately following a night of poor sleep, you are more likely to lack energy during the day. You may have excessive daytime sleepiness that makes it hard to focus. You may doze off unexpectedly, which can be especially risky if you’re driving. Even if you don’t actually fall asleep, your reaction time is worsened, which can increase the risk of accidents.
Sleep deprivation is associated with irritability and mood problems. It can drag down your thinking by worsening your memory, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities. As a result, you may suffer lower academic achievement or reduced work productivity. Lack of sleep can also hinder physical performance and impair your immune system, putting you at a higher risk of infections.
Over the long-term, lack of sleep has been tied to a wide range of health problems, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, depression and anxiety, pain, and hormonal abnormalities. Studies have consistently found lack of sleep to be tied to reduced quantity and quality of life.
How To Improve Sleep and Sleep Hygiene
Improving sleep hygiene is a straightforward way to make it more likely that you get the sleep that you need every night. Enhancing sleep hygiene means revamping your habits and routines as well as your bedroom environment.
Having a consistent schedule with enough time budgeted for sleep is a central part of sleep hygiene, and the sleep calculator can help you establish a bedtime and wake-up time that assure you are setting aside sufficient time for sleep. Your goal should be to keep this schedule every day, even on weekends or holidays.
In addition to a stable sleep schedule, other tips to help you get enough sleep include:
Having a relaxing routine to get ready for bed
Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants in the afternoon and evening
Reducing consumption of alcohol, especially in the hours before bed
Putting away electronic devices, including cell phones and tablets, for at least 30 minutes before bedtime
Finding time for physical activity or exercise during the day
Striving for natural light exposure during daylight hours
Making the bedroom dark and quiet, and/or using a sleep mask and earplugs, to reduce disruptions
Choosing a supportive mattress along with a comfortable pillow and bedding
Finding the right recipe for sleep hygiene may involve some trial-and-error to determine exactly what works for you. Starting with the sleep calculator and incorporating other healthy sleep tips are meaningful steps toward getting the sleep that your mind and body need.
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