The Mirage of Rest: How Much Sleep Are You Actually Getting?
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Do you find yourself still exhausted when you wake up in the morning and groggy most of the day? Is your mood snappy and mind cloudy, despite the fact that you seem to be getting the “right” amount of sleep? Use these quick tips as a guide to understand how much sleep you need and how much you are actually getting.
Make Sure There’s No Underlying Issues
If you often feel fatigued, best to get checked out by your GP, ENT, or endocrinologist. Perhaps you have low iron or other vitamin deficiencies. Maybe there is a hormonal imbalance that is draining your energy.
Best to rule out apnea as well, which can cause frequent waking during the night and exhaustion during the day. But with all of these culprits accounted for, there is still more to consider.
Not All Sleep is Created Equal
Sleep is not like filling up your car with gas. Assuming we are talking about the right quality of petrol, a full tank is a full tank.
But two people could both be getting 8 hours of sleep, but with very different results. In sleep, 4+4 does not equal 8.
Some of us get woken up at night by children or other inevitable slumber interruptions. Granted, there are ways to minimize this, but with a house full of young children, someone is bound to be up at least once in the night.
While it’s very important to train yourself to be able to go back to sleep quickly, I work with a lot of clients on this issue, even so, it’s not the same.
You have to factor not only the time that you are up, but also the fragmented sleep interrupts your REM cycles and the sleep is of lighter, lesser quality.
Your Mind is Awake While You Are Asleep
When we sleep, our bodies are in low function mode, saving much for the work for cellular repair and restoration. But our minds are off-the-chart active.
REM brain waves are robust and dynamic, creating vivid dreams and neural functioning. Our minds don’t stop when we sleep, but they do need to release.
Ever what your brain looks like when you sleep?
If we go to bed with a tense body and active conscious mind, we are carrying that weight into our sleep and not allowing our minds to fully unwind and go wild as they need to.
Practically speaking, this means that the quality of sleep you get is less, the REM is diminished, and our ability for sleep to restore our function is lessened.
Take steps to make sure your body and mind has time to relax before bed so they only thing you carry to your pillow is your teddy and blankie.
Only You Know the Right Amount of Sleep
If I get 6 hours of sleep a night I’m fine. For others, they are falling on their face with 6 hours. Some need naps during the day, while others need it all at night.
No one person is the same and it is impossible to give a hard number of hours that any given person needs.
Not only that, your required amount of sleep changes throughout your life and depends on daytime activities.
Don't you wish you could sleep like this again?
This is why it is very important for great sleepers to be aware of the physiological signs that their body is sharing with them.
How tired are you during the day? When are you peak and dip cycles of alertness and energy? How sharp or sluggish is your mind?
Only you can answer these questions and determine the right amount of sleep you really need. A little bit of tiredness can help us fall asleep easily at night, but too much can wreak havoc on our day and actually make us over-tired and restless when trying to sleep at night.
Make a chart and be honest with yourself. How much sleep do you need to be your best and are you really getting your daily dose?
Doron Lazarus is the founder of Executive Sleep Consulting.
Reach out to him at email@example.com or visit at www.executivesleep.org