Sleep plays an essential role in both physical and mental health. While most adults know that, most don’t get enough sleep to meet minimum recommendations. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one-third of all Americans don’t get enough sleep every night.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, then you may wonder what you do to get more restful sleep. In other words, you want to know how to sleep 8 hours in 4 hours. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make each hour of sleep feel as restful as possible.
How Much Sleep Do People Need?
The ideal number of hours to sleep each night is based on age. Babies need a lot of sleep and so do teenagers, while older adults tend to need less. Here are the nightly sleep recommendations from the CDC:
- Newborns up to three months old need 14-17 hours of sleep every day.
- Babies between four and 12 months need 12-16 hours per day (including naps.)
- Toddlers between one and two years old need 12-14 hours per day (including naps.)
- Preschoolers between three and five years old need 10 to 13 hours per day.
- School-age kids between six and 12 years old need between nine and 12 hours of sleep.
- Teenagers need between eight and 10 hours of sleep per day.
- Adults 18-60 need seven hours or more of sleep per day.
- Adults 60-64 need seven to nine hours, while adults 65 and over need seven or eight.
The reason for the CDC statistic cited above is that the average American adult gets less than seven hours of sleep per night with many getting six or fewer. The result is an overwhelming sleep deficit. The same issue applies to kids, many of whom spend their days feeling tired.
Why is Sleep Important?
Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about feeling rested. In fact, insufficient sleep can affect your health in a variety of ways.
Memory and Thinking
Everybody has had the experience of feeling mentally fuzzy after a sleepless or restless night. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, sleep gives your body the opportunity to clear out toxins that accumulate during the day.
When you get enough sleep, you’re more likely to feel crisp and alert during the day and have an easy time recalling essential information.
Various systems of your body, including your heart, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, and immune system rely on sleep to maintain healthy function.
If you don’t get enough restful and restorative sleep, it can contribute to issues such as heart disease, respiratory disease, digestive issues, and even increased risk of contagious illnesses. You’re also more likely to develop a chronic illness if you don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep and Hormones
The human body produces an array of hormones that act as messengers within the body. These include digestive hormones such as insulin and ghrelin, mood-regulating hormones such as serotonin, and many others.
Since many of these hormones are produced during sleep, a lack of sleep can lead to hormonal imbalances. These may lead you to eat more unhealthy food and slow your metabolism, so you gain weight.
Tips for How to Sleep 8 Hours in 4 Hours
If you’re someone who routinely gets fewer than seven hours of sleep per night, then you may be wondering if there’s a way to make four hours of sleep feel like eight hours of sleep. Here are some suggestions courtesy of the Mayo Clinic to make your sleep more restful.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. It’s common for adults to alter their bedtimes and wake-up times. You’re more likely to sleep well and feel rested if you go to bed and get up at the same time every day. You may want to plan backward starting with the time you need to leave the house for work to determine the best time to go to bed.
- Get some exercise. Exercising during the day helps your body recognize when it’s tired and makes you feel sleepy when it’s time for bed. Even a daily walk can be enough to reset your sleep cycle.
- Create a restful environment for sleep. A lot of people live in areas with light pollution and noise pollution that can disrupt sleep. Investing in blackout curtains, a sleep mask, or comfortable earplugs can do a lot to eliminate disturbances and make your sleep restful.
- Use a weighted blanket. People who are prone to anxiety may benefit from sleeping under a weighted blanket.
- Minimize screen time. Exposure to blue light can disrupt your normal sleep pattern and make it difficult to fall asleep. Consider stepping away from your television, computer, or phone at least an hour before your desired bedtime.
- Eat healthy. Eating a healthy diet in general can help you sleep better. It’s also useful to avoid alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine before bed since these substances can all disrupt your sleep.
- Manage your anxiety. If you’re someone who tosses and turns in bed, it may be that you are feeling anxious. You can mitigate anxiety by creating a to-do list for the next day. Some people may benefit from therapy or medication to help them cope with anxiety and get restful sleep.
These tips can help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep throughout the night.
Make Every Hour of Sleep Count
It’s time to stop feeling overtired and start feeling well rested every day. Even if you don’t get eight hours of sleep per night, you can use the tips here to maximize the restfulness of your sleep and reap the rewards of a well-rested brain!