If we all love our beds, why do so many people fail to get enough sleep?

Most of us love the idea of going to bed and getting more sleep, but when it comes to putting that desire into practice, we’ll rarely go to bed early unless we’re sick. Most of us put off going to sleep until the very last minute, distracted by social media on our phones or a TV show we could pause and leave until tomorrow. Then, once we get into bed, we stress out about the fact that we either aren’t asleep yet (a vicious circle) or about what we’ve got to do the next day. We all understand that sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing, yet we don’t make it a priority. To change that, let’s start with the basics: how much sleep do we need?

How Much Sleep Do I Actually Need?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, though there are recommended windows (that you can find below) to guide you. If you are outside of these windows frequently, you likely aren’t getting enough regular sleep. Getting too much sleep is a lot less likely, but if you’re sleeping a lot and still wake up feeling fatigued when you get up, you may have an underlying health issue that is worth investigation.

Signs You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

      • You lack productivity during the day – we all have days where concentration is a struggle, but if these days are a regular occurrence for you (more than once or twice a month) it is likely a sign that you aren’t getting enough regular sleep.
      • Are you sick a lot? If you seem to get sick more frequently than those around you, you may not be giving your body the time it needs rest and repair at night.
      • Overweight – while being overweight won’t be caused by a lack of sleep, it can be a side-effect. If you rely on high-sugar foods to give you the energy to get through the day you may put on more weight, and the more sleep you get the more time your body has to metabolize and you’ll find it easier to have control over your cravings.
      • Do you depend on caffeine? If you can’t get through the afternoon at work without a caffeinated beverage you likely need more sleep.

What are the Recommended Ranges?

Newborn (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
Children (6-13): 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
Young Adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
Over 65s: 7-8 hours

SleepFoundation.org provides an hour buffer on either side of this range, as there are individuals who can thrive on slightly less sleep or need a little more. Use this range to guide you, get in a routine of getting into bed at the same time each night, and see how you feel over a week.

If you’re concerned you have a sleep disorder and live in the Birmingham, AL area, you can contact us to set up a consultation.

A message from Dr. Amy Hartsfield: At TMJ & Sleep Solutions of Alabama, our mission is to provide personalized care to restore quality of life, one patient at a time. If you are experiencing issues with sleep, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment!