Is it bad if you only log four, five, or six hours of sleep a night? Watch out for these signs that you need more sleep.
Some people claim they only need five or six hours of sleep per night. However, the National Sleep Foundation’s 2015 landmark guidelines recommend that adults 18 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly; for adults 65 and over, seven to eight hours nightly is best.
What Causes Lack of Sleep?
Many different factors can cause you to get less than five or six hours of sleep per night, such as being stressed or worried, eating a big meal too close to bedtime, drinking alcohol in the evening, or consuming caffeine too late in the afternoon. There are other contributors that may not be as obvious, such as:
Age: People 65 or over can tend to have more trouble sleeping due to natural circadian body clock changes as we age, medications or health problems.
Illness: Common conditions such as depression, anxiety, pain, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease can all interfere with sleep. Lung, heart, kidney, and urological diseases can also cause sleep disturbances.
Sleep disorders: Insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome can be responsible for keeping you awake.
Other causes: Poor sleep habits, such as a lack of a consistent bedtime routine or not going to bed and getting up at the same time daily, can result in a lack of quality sleep. A change in schedule, noise, and other disruptions in your sleep environment can also play a role.
Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
If you’re sleeping less than what your body needs, you may experience symptoms in addition to feeling tired, such as:
- Inability to concentrate
- Difficulty with memory
- Puffy eyes, bags, or dark circles under eyes
- Feeling hungrier or gaining weight
- Irritability or moodiness
- Increased bouts with illness
Continued lack of sleep can increase your risk for serious health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and mental illness, as well as increase the likelihood of workplace mistakes and car accidents. That’s why it’s so important to address sleep problems as quickly as possible with the aim of improving the length and quality of your sleep.
How to Get the Recommended Amount of Sleep
What can you do to get the recommended amount of sleep? Put parameters on your screen time—shut off your computer and put down your smartphone at least an hour before bed and keep them outside of your bedroom if possible—artificial light from screens suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps you feel sleepy.
Also, while watching TV before bed may seem relaxing, it can actually be too stimulating. Instead, do something truly calming like listening to a podcast or music, or reading a book. Skip heavy meals and caffeine, and limit alcohol to one drink.
Other healthy habits that promote good sleep are eating nutritious foods, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and setting up your bedroom so it’s an optimal environment for sleep. Doing these things should help you get the recommended number of hours of sleep each night.