People often wonder if 6 hours of sleep is enough, because with our modern lives, sleep hasn’t been given the importance it deserves. The research generally confirms that six hours is not enough sleep. Most people need seven or eight hours sleep. Although, on rare occasions we can get by on only six hours, doing so on an ongoing basis can be detrimental to your mental and physical health.
Some people have no idea that they are sleep deprived because they prop themselves up with caffeinated drinks like coffee and pop or because they eat lots of caffeinated snacks like chocolates.
What does the research say about how much sleep is enough?
This where it gets a bit complex because how much sleep we need depends on how old we are. Children generally need a lot more sleep than adults. Most mature adults need between seven and nine hours sleep. Senior adults may only need seven or eight hours.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers anything less than seven hours to be “short sleep.”
The other part of the equation is how good a quality sleep you are getting. This affects how rested you feel when you wake up. Drinking alcohol or getting up too frequently can affect whether you have good quality sleep. If you rarely feel satisfied from sleep, talk to your doctor about it. You might need to have a sleep study done.
What are the effects of getting only six hours or less of sleep?
You may feel drowsy and lack energy and mental clarity. Performance on memory, learning, creativity, and problem-solving tasks decreases.
Your overall mood can be affected and longterm it can lead to depression.
Physically you can have poor coordination and slower reaction times. Sometimes people even feel unwell. Your sex drive and overall feeling of good health can be negatively affected.
Long term sleep deprivation has been linked in the research to kidney disease and health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It also raises your risk for heart health issues including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Children that aren’t getting enough sleep can be moody, angry, hyperactive or have trouble paying attention.
So what can you do if you aren’t getting enough sleep?
Probably the most important thing is to start cultivating a good night-time routine. Make sure you eat at least two hours before you plan to go to sleep. Avoid eating a heavy meal at night. Reduce your exposure to phones and screens as the blue light emitted by them can reduce your natural melatonin levels. Don’t have any caffeine after noon because it stays in your blood for many hours.
Make sure your room isn’t too hot. A cooler room is better for sleep.
If you have trouble establishing a better sleep routine, talk to one of our counselors about it.
If you start following a routine like this, your body will feel much better and you will realize that 6 hours of sleep is not enough.