How Much Sleep Should I Get?
Last updated on March 15, 2023
Sleep. In our busy, overstimulated, stressed, hyper-connected world sleep seems to allude most of us. This lack of sleep is unnatural and has contributed to much of the poor health, both physical and mental, that we see in our communities today. Sleeping is when our body heals, cleanses, and rebuilds. This is also the time that our brain assimilates our experiences and creates long-term memories. When we check out the statistics it’s actually quite alarming.
- 2 out of 5 Australians report struggling with sleep on a regular basis
- 60 % of Australian adults have at least one sleeping disorder
- 25% of 12-15-year-olds don’t sleep for the recommended 8-10 hours on school nights
- As few as 20% of Australians sleep through the night uninterrupted
- Sleep deprivation costs the Australian economy $66.3 billion a year in health and indirect costs
Why do we sleep so poorly?
There is a complex web of reasons, but the underlying theme is that we are living an incongruent life with our genetic requirements. What I mean by this is, that we live in an entirely unnatural environment from that which our genes have developed and evolved over a very long period of time.
Prior to modern electricity, when the sun set humans would gather around a fire for community and safety. Our bodies would naturally wind down and we would sleep in a cycle aligned with the day/night cycle. This is known as our circadian rhythm. Now we have bright indoor lighting available 24 hours a day. We have the constant presence of our phones, TV, and other electronic devices. Not only do these emit a bright blue light spectrum that confuses our brains about the time of day, they often overstimulate our system due to the nature of the content we consume. In addition, factors such as stress and physical discomfort, which can be addressed through methods such as chiropractic treatment, can also impact the quality of our sleep.
When we experienced stress in past, it was usually acute stress, that would resolve and we’d return to our normal state. In today’s world many experience long-term chronic stress that may or may not be real.
Another cause of poor sleep is obesity and the lifestyle that contributes to it. It is estimated that between 70-80 percent of Australian adults are overweight or obese. The lifestyles that contribute to this statistic also contribute to poor sleep; poor diet, chronic stress, and a sedentary lifestyle.
We’ll tackle how to improve all of these parameters in a future blog.
How much sleep do we actually need and how do we know if we are getting enough?
According to the Sleep Foundation, the breakdown is as follows:
- School-age (6-13) -9-11 hours
- Teen 8-10 hours
- Adults 7-9 hours
- Adults 65 and over 7-8 hours
These are just guidelines, however. If you fall asleep or feel groggy while driving. If you feel like your attention and energy levels are low. If you require large amounts of caffeine to get through the day. All of these are signs of inadequate sleep.
Some people benefit from wearing a sleep-tracking device and then reverse engineering what works best and also identifying what impacts their sleep negatively.
The bottom line is, if you feel tired, don’t hesitate to sleep more. Protect your sleep, it may be one of the most important habits you can develop.
Consult one of our chiropractors to assess your nervous system, improved sleep is just one of the possible benefits of getting chiropractic care.