Do We Really Need 8 Hours of Sleep? Apparently Not
We've all heard that we should get seven to eight hours of sleep, but it may not be the most important thing to consider when planning when to go to bed.
I've mentioned before that for years I've had trouble sleeping through the night. (nyctophilia). I've been researching things to try to achieve a good night's sleep. Everything I've come across says that adults over 25 should try to get seven to eight hours. That amount will vary for each individual. I've found that six hours of sleep works best for me. Achieving it is the problem.
THE SLEEP CALCULATOR:
While doing this research, I stumbled onto several 'Sleep Calculators' recently, and it suggests something else to consider when it comes to achieving a restful night of sleep. When you go to bed may be just as important, if not more important, to waking up feeling rested.
THE 90 MINUTE SLEEP CYCLE:
We've all heard the term 'REM sleep' before. REM stands for rapid eye movement. According to WebMD.com, “When you get your ZZZs, you cycle between REM and non-REM sleep.” Based on the research I've done, one of those cycles last about 90 minutes. That's a pretty consistent number for everyone. Our bodies go through through four to six of these cycles a night. It's important that we wake up at the end of one of those 90 minute patterns and not in the middle of it.
Therefore it is also important to back-time from the time we want, so we can wake up when one of those cycles is ending. I've found several sleep calculators that can help learn when we should go to bed based on the time we want to get up, and they are fairly consistent with each other.
WHEN SHOULD I GO TO BED:
I need to get out of bed each weekday morning by 3:50 for work. When you factor in the average 14-15 minutes it takes to fall asleep, most sleep calculators that I've found online tell me that I should go to bed at these times: 6:35 PM, 8:05 PM, 9:35 PM, 11:05 PM, or 12:35 AM. This is supposed to help me wake up after one of those 90 minute sleep cycle.
SO HAS THIS THEORY WORKED FOR ME?:
My work schedule is all over the road, and there some nights that I don't get home until after 10:00 PM. I've been trying to go to bed based on those time for the last two weeks. Honestly, it hasn't helped me from waking up in the middle of the night. That being said... If I go to bed around 9:35 PM and actually sleep though the entire night, I've been waking up about five to ten minutes before the alarm fires. I even feel rested even if I went to bed around 11:05 PM.