Sleep: Are You Getting Your Dose?



Author: Sheilah Overman, MS., Marriage & Family Therapy Intern, IMF #71336

According to numerous studies, the majority of us are not getting the amount of sleep needed in order to function at our optimal best, which not only leaves us feeling lethargic, and zombie-like during the day, but also takes a toll on our physical and emotional health. Lack of sleep can leave us with: heightened irritability, more anxiousness, less desire to engage with other’s socially, a sense of fogginess, and a likely hood to feel aggravated throughout the day. All of which could lead to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, impulsive eating, disinterest in physical activity, and elevated blood pressure.

Sure, everybody might not need the standard 8 hours  of shut-eye per evening; some may need more, and the lucky ones may require less. You may ask, “How much sleep does my body really need?” And with that, I would like to suggest a sleep experiment that may allow you to sufficiently answer that very question. In order to figure out how much sleep your body needs to recharge:

  • select a weekend wherein you don’t have any morning obligations.
  • to keep things consistent, make sure you go to bed each evening on the same hour that you usually would during your work week.
  • do not set your alarm all weekend (how liberating!)
  • allow your body to wake naturally each morning (here’s to hoping that no gardner, sanitation worker, or other noise disturbance interrupts your slumber.)
  • record the average number of hours you slept each evening over the course of the weekend.
  • now, adjust your weekly bedtime to accommodate how much time your body truly needs for optimal functioning.

Until very recently, I had been convinced that I only needed 5-6 hours of sleep per night. After conducting this experiment, I found that I actually need 8 1/2- 9 solid hours of sleep!!! Imagine how much more alert, productive, and creative I could have been if I had known that sooner. Now, I really make it a priority to accommodate those 9 hours.

Please let me know of any thoughts you might have.

Until next time, Sleep tight!

1 Comment
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