Scientists and experts worldwide have concluded that human beings need to sleep for about eight hours every night. However, according to an expert, Matthew Walker, a vast number of us don’t even come close to that figure.
Walker says that we are the one race that consciously doesn’t sleep, even though that doesn’t benefit us in any way. Most of us go about our lives without getting half the sleep we need and we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
He argues that most of the illness faced by people in developed countries can be connected to the shortage of sleep in some way or the other. The popular saying ‘you can sleep when you’re dead’ is a terrible notion that needs to be discarded.
In his work ‘Why We Sleep’, Walker talks about how essential sleep is and gives us techniques we can use to make sure we get those eight hours.
What you can do to help you sleep?
If you stay awake in bed for a while, you brain will start thinking that bed is a place where you need to be alert. It is better to move to another room which is dimly lit and try to go through a book or do anything that doesn’t involve using any devices. You can go lie down again when you feel like it. Meditation also helps when you can’t go to sleep. It relaxes your mind and decreases the level of adrenaline coursing through your body.
Can you get in a few extra hours of sleep the next night when you haven’t slept well on another night?
While it would be great if we could that, that is not the way the body works. It’s not like you can take a loan of energy from your body and return it later. You will not be able to regain the rest that you denied your body and even if you sleep extra, you won’t be able to get back those eight hours. The brain isn’t wired in such a way that you can make up for a sleepless night during the week on a weekend.
Can adolescents sleep in on holidays?
Most mothers and fathers will start shaking their children awake on holidays and telling them to get out of bed before they sleep the day away. This isn’t right because they are merely obeying the urges of their body. While they cannot regain the hours they lost out on over the week, their bodies and brains do need rest and it is essential that they get it. It is also important to modify school timings and learning methods.
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The effect of age on how well we sleep and how long we sleep
It is not true that we don’t need as much sleep as we get older. You need those eight hours of sleep even when you’re 15, when you’re 50 and when you’re 80. However, we do start sleeping less because our brains are not able to generate that amount of sleep even though it is still important that we do our best to get it.
We also become more restless and unable to sleep in an uninterrupted manner. You’ll start waking up every few hours because of the urge to use the toilet, some ache or the other and so on. When you hit middle age, you will not be able to sleep half as deeply as you did when you were an adolescent.
Do medicine helps you sleep?
It might seem like they do but the truth is that the medicines we are using at present only sedate us. This isn’t the same as sleeping naturally. Your body doesn’t relax in the way it is meant to.
What are the effects of caffeine?
For many people, caffeine prevents them from sleeping. There are some who claim that they can drink caffeinated drinks at night and still go to sleep but they fail to understand that they will not be able to sleep as deeply as they are supposed to. They will not feel rested when they wake up and will need more caffeine to get the energy they missed out on by not sleeping well.
What does liquor do?
Like medicine, liquor also sedates you. You are just ensuring that you slip away from consciousness really fast. Drinking will not allow you to sleep for eight hours at a stretch. You’ll keep waking up for a few minutes even if you can’t recall them. It also prevents you from entering into the REM mode which is essential for you to get the rest you need.