The NSF Sleep Guidelines of 7-8 hours is not sufficient
Many people have some or all of their sleep goals goals based on guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). However, the NSF’s recommendations are only based on limited data. Research published in the Journal of Physiology revealed that people who sleep between seven and eight hours a night do not have a lower risk of cognitive impairment.
Our brains adapt and change with nearly every small change in sleep quality. The NSF review of research did not prove an hour of additional sleep nightly reduces the risk of cognitive impairment. These studies did not provide insight into how much time in bed is appropriate for people of different ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
While sleep may be good for optimizing emotional and behavioral stability, it can have major ramifications on brain function, neurochemical balance, and cognition. The majority of people struggle with trying to adjust their sleep schedule and resist potential changes. Many don’t realize that persistent sleep disturbances can impact mood, speed of thinking, cognition, attention, physical health, and emotional stability.
The following guidelines can help you gain insight into whether sleeping seven to eight hours is just right for you:
Sleep Your Sleep Type
Although we know insufficient sleep causes health issues, how many people understand that poor sleep quality can impact their cognitive and emotional states? People of different sleep time will benefit from different types of sleep. If you are not sleeping well, look for ways to improve your sleep. It may not be possible to sleep eight hours, but getting enough sleep at the right time can impact your ability to function efficiently. Talk to your doctor if you are having difficulties with insomnia or a negative sleep quality.
Adjust Your Sleep Time
No matter the advice from an expert, some people just don’t seem to adapt to different sleep schedules. Try to adjust your sleeping patterns to better help you sleep better. The National Sleep Foundation states there are many things you can do to optimize sleep, including using individual sleep aids and getting involved in other ways to improve sleep quality. One approach you can try if you are struggling to manage your sleep is going back to the basics. Try delaying bedtime and waking during the day. Take a shower before bed, turn off all electronics before bed, and read a book. If these aren’t effective, use a different bedtime routine if possible.
Consult a Therapist
If you think that your sleep quality might be inconsistent, consult with a professional in order to learn more about your sleep pattern and get help to get better. Good sleep can be uncomfortable and difficult for many people. If you are having trouble sleeping, it may not be due to sleep issues alone.
Be Mindful of Your Sleep
Some people struggle with night naps or sleep walking, which can be difficult to detect. In the end, it’s the easy pill to swallow that will help you achieve your sleep goals and overall wellness.
Be concerned with your mind and body at night. Negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors often occur after sleep, and the effects of one can adversely affect another. When you have a bad night, remember what happened last night and take steps to avoid the behavior in the future. Many people make the mistake of blaming their daytime behavior on their sleep problems. This may not be accurate or even a true reflection of what happened in the past. If you aren’t feeling your best, it is a good idea to make small changes to improve.
It is easy to make general statements regarding a sleeping schedule such as “I need to get an hour more sleep.” However, most people only have a limited amount of time to move forward on goals. My recommendation is to seek out the help of a sleep professional to help you adjust your sleep to help you achieve your mental and physical goals.