• Martha Lewis

How much sleep do YOU need?

This may seem like an obvious question. You know how it feels when you don't get enough sleep. You're grumpy, irritable, in a fog, and unmotivated. But that's probably when you miss a few hours of sleep. From insomnia, or your kiddo waking up sick in the night, or when you go to bed late.

But many get most of the sleep we need. Your body may just want 30-60 minutes more than it's getting. So you don't feel awful. But you don't feel your best either.

I mean, 8 out of 10 people say that they would feel better and more prepared for their day if they just had one more hour of sleep a night. We just get used to going without that additional hour of sleep. Waking up to the alarm, then snoozing a couple of times before dragging yourself out of bed to start the coffee pot becomes the norm.

But did you know that missing that 1 hour of sleep every night still affects your overall health? Your immune system is compromised. Your don't think as clearly as you should. You're more easily irritated.

Yes, you can try to make it up by sleeping in on the weekends. But it's hard for your body to catch up when you're continually not getting enough sleep.

Does this sound like you? You're getting a decent amount of sleep. But you don't feel your best every day. You get through your day with caffeine and sugar whenever you feel tired.

You may need just a little more sleep for your body, mind, and mood to function optimally. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. Could you fall back asleep at 10 or 11 a.m. after waking up in the morning?

2. Do you need caffeine to function optimally before noon?

3. If you didn't set an alarm clock, would you sleep past the time you're supposed to get up?

4. When on your computer, do you read and then reread the same sentence over and over?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you most likely aren't getting all the sleep you need. The question, then, is

Are you ready to start getting the sleep you need?

Now is the time to make sleep a priority. Sleep is more important than watching an episode of The Walking Dead or scrolling through Instagram. (And looking at screens wires you and suppresses the production of melatonin which makes it even harder for you to fall asleep.)

I know I have an unpopular opinion here. You may even want to call me the Fun Police. I get it. I just can't help but share how I feel about sleep. I believe it's the most important component of our health. Even more important than diet and exercise. There, I said it!

Matthew Walker feels passionately about sleep as well. He says in his book Why We Sleep,

"A balanced diet and exercise are of vital importance, yes. But we now see sleep as the preeminent force in this health trinity. The physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise. It is difficult to imagine any other state-naturally or medically manipulated-that affords a more powerful redressing of physical and mental health at every level of analysis."

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