What is the Recommended Amount of Sleep Each Night?

 

Sleep can be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable activities in life.  We all fantasize about the perfect night of restful sleep in a comfy bed, where we wake up the next morning full of energy and enthusiasm ready to live life to the fullest.  Learning how to sleep effectively, efficiently and the right amount as often as possible is one of the most important things in life, I mean we do spend one third of our life sleeping.

We have obviously all felt the feeling (far too often) of not getting enough rest and waking up exhausted and in a haze, in dire need of a cup of coffee to feel alive. Many of us have also felt the feeling of having overslept where we wake up drowsy, listless, not completely alert and even a little sore.

Believe it or not too little or too much sleep can lead to many of the same issues: tiredness, lack of concentration, anxiety, depression and even increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

So that begs the question? What is the recommended amount of sleep we should be getting every night? Is it the 8 to 9 hours your doctor and parents have been recommending to you your whole life? Or is it a little more complicated than that? Let’s put on our classic English deerstalker cap and summon our inner Sherlock Homes swag to find out…

While there are variations of these parameters and every person is a little different (we all know that guy with endless energy that can seemingly survive with four hours a night and be able to still be full of energy, or the friend that literally can’t function without 9 hours), here is the most recent suggested amount of sleep for every age group from the National Sleep Foundation in 2015:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

As you can see you generally need less sleep as you transition through life and your body becomes more experienced in helping you receive all of the benefits you need from sleep in order to operate at peak efficiency, if you are able to get these amounts of sleep on a regular basis of course, which for many of you on this site is not the case at least not yet!

You should view these recommended amounts as a goal to try and carve out the time to attain as often as possible in the midst of the crazy whirlwind game we call life.

These sleep amounts are just an outline or a compass though, as your 7 to 9 hours of sleep may not be providing the rest and recuperation you need to enjoy life to the fullest if you are not getting the right amounts of REM or deep sleep or are waking up far too often during the night.

Please utilize all of the tools, recommendations, information, products and expertise on this website to help you take back control of your life and be able to attack with all of the energy and passion that you deserve to.

Feel free to reach out to me on your journey as well and share your progress or struggles as we all try to sleep longer and more effectively to get the most out of our lives. Teamwork makes the dream work,

-Ryan

 

Stages of Sleep

 

Millions of people around the world are dealing with numerous issues in regards to getting deep and restful sleep on a nightly basis. Many people are in search of more sleep or better sleep, often times referred to as “deep sleep” but do we really know and understand the stages of sleep and what constitutes as deep sleep?

 

For those who don’t, I figured I would lend a helping hand and put your worries to rest (see what I did there?) by breaking down the different stages of sleep.

 

Stage 1:  Light Sleep

 

It is in this stage where your body starts to relax and your muscles slow down as you start to nod off and drift into sleep land. Think of an adorable baby nodding their head or an extremely bored student dozing off in math class. In this stage your eyes move slowly and you can easily be awakened by any sudden movement or noise. This is also the stage where you can often can the sensation of falling or running into something.

 

 

 

Stage 2: Out But Not Knocked Out

 

Think of a boxer who is knocked down and is down for the eight count but is able to come to their senses when alerted by the referee of their impending loss and is physically able to get up and find their bearings before the 10 count. This stage typically occurs 15 to 30 minutes after first dozing off and is the stage where a phone call will wake you up but you won’t be too disoriented to answer and maintain a normal conversation instantly.  Your heart rate is stopping and your temperature is slowing.

 

Stage 3: Deep Sleep

 

 

This is the most important stage of sleep, usually 45 minutes in where your body temperature lowers and your heart rate lowers to such a point that you can start restoring your physical and mental energy, this is where the true restful and helpful sleep occurs for good health. If someone awakens you from your slumber in this stage you will be disoriented for a few minutes.  Fun fact: this is also the stage where people experience night terrors, mumbling or full-on sleep talking and sleep walking.

 

Stage 4: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep

 

This is easily the most interesting portion of the sleep cycle as your brain activity increases at a rapid rate as if you were awake and alert and you start dreaming. As we all have learned, just because your brain is active and alert during this stage, your muscles and body are essentially paralyzed. If you ever watch someone sleeping during this phase you will actually see their eyes moving like crazy underneath their closed eye lids, it is a very odd site. The benefit of REM sleep is longer-term memory and improved brain function.

 

So now that you know the sleep stages, what is the ideal amount of each kind of sleep? Doctors say that a healthy night of sleep moves through this cycle four of five times and includes a much higher amount of deep and REM sleep than lighter sleep for ideal brain function and increased energy and immune health.

 

Here are the healthy sleep stages according to the Center for Sound Sleep:

 

 

There you have it folks, the stages of sleep explained! Feel free to peruse the rest of my website to learn about numerous tips and recomendations for falling into a deeper sleep and some products that can help!

 

-Ryan

 

 

How to Fall Asleep on a Plane, Avoid Jet Lag

 

There are people who can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a hat. I have one friend named Mike that can literally fall asleep mid-sentence (I kid you not, I have seen it). If you’re perusing this website for sleep tips, I can safely assume you are not one of those people.

For whatever reason at some point in my life (around adulthood I have determined) it became nearly impossible for me to fall asleep in public or any form of transit: planes, trains or automobiles (movie reference? Anyone?).

For those of us who struggle to sleep consistently in the comfort of our own bed, sleeping in an uncomfortable position on a plane can seem like an impossible task.  I for one am preparing for a 11 hour flight to London this fall and I know that it will be essential for me to be able to get some rest on the flight, so I thought I would incorporate some tips that I’ve learned and share them with you!

 

Pick a Window Seat

If you can reserve a window seat, you should. Window seats allow for you to utilize the side of the plane as a resting tool and you are free to lean in that direction. You can’t lean in any direction in the middle seat, unless it is on a compassionate loved ones shoulder and you don’t want to lean toward the aisle in an aisle seat, unless you enjoy being hit in the head by the trolley or people.

The window seat also allows you to control the amount of light you are getting.

 

Dress for the Occasion

 

While you may not feel comfortable rocking your Hello Kitty onesie on a plane, if you want to put your self in a state of comfort to fall asleep you have to bring the right attire. This isn’t the 1950s, you don’t have to wear a suit to the airport, you can wear your favorite sweats or shorts and a comfortable and well-worn t-shirt.

 

Pick Your Side

 

Much like whether you pull the toilet roll over or under or prefer pronouncing the world caramel as “CAR-MUL” (Gross) or “CARE-A-MALE” (that’s what I am talking about) every body has a side they prefer to sleep on. Your ideal seat is a window seat on the that side of the plane with as much leg room as you can get.

 

Lean Back & Train Your Core (Seriously…)

 

Being hunched over while sleeping is not the way to go when trying to sleep on a plane or in public. Trying to fall asleep leaning over puts a lot of pressure on your spinal disks and makes it harder for you to be able fall sleep comfortably or for any length of time.

The ideal way to fall asleep on a plane is by leaning back (slightly, don’t be that guy or girl remember to think about the passenger behind you) or sitting straight up. Sleeping straight up with a neck pillow will allow you the comfort to sleep and the body support. It may be harder to support your back if you lack abdominal strength though so work in a few crunches or ab exercises leading up to your trip. You can also utilize a lumbar pillow or even a rolled up sweatshirt to support your back, that requires less effort and sweat cells.

 

Try Melatonin

 

Most sleep aids are too powerful or will leave you too groggy and may affect you after your flight so they aren’t recommended to help encourage sleep on a plane.  Melatonin is a naturally producing hormone in your body that allows you to become restful and alter your circadian rhythms. You can find some ratings and reviews for some great Melatonin products on this website!

 

Eat Light, Drink Lighter

 

Doctors suggest not to eat a heavy or large meal within two hours of sleep for a variety of reasons including comfort and making your body work too hard to break it down before trying to transition into sleep mode (it also can cause circulation issues which will be exacerbated on a long flight). Stick with a lighter meal and if you have a long flight, bring healthy snacks to nourish you while on board. It may be appealing to drink before a flight for a number of reasons, to get the party started for a fun trip, to help you pass out and fall asleep, or to deal with nerves associated with flying, it is not a good idea for restful sleep though. After drinking people usually get a few hours of restless sleep and wake up exhausted with a headache and a need for hydration ASAP. More pee breaks equals less opportunity for sleep.

 

Prepare For a Time Zone Change

 

The best way to succeed at any task or event in life is to prepare for it right? Why not adpot that mentality with sleeping on a plane and avoiding jet lag? The night or days before a long flight, try and adjust your sleeping patterns slightly in preparation. If you’re heading east, try to get to sleep an hour so earlier than you usually do and get get up an hour or so earlier. This will ease the transition to a new time zone.

You also want to try and align your sleep with the patterns of the place you are traveling to and the amount of light outside to adjust your circadian rhythms. For instance, if you are flying from the west coast to London (like I will be) and your flight leaves in the evening, you want to concentrate your sleep on the first half of the trip while it is dark out to minimize jet lag and alter your circadian rhythm.

 

Be Loose & Limber

 

 

If you are about to be couped up on a plane for a long time with little ability to move around or stretch you want to be loose and limber and relaxed right? Make it a point to stretch out thoroughly before your flight and maybe even attend a yoga class in the days leading up to your flight. Your body will be more relaxed and better equipped for the rigors of travel.

 

Flip Your Pillow

 

While this seems counter-intuitive, consider flipping around you neck pillow and wearing it in front of you for more support and protection when you invariably start lunging forward as you are in the midst of a deep and peaceful sleep (positive thoughts).

 

There you have it! All the tips you need to sleep among the clouds (literally)!

 

-Ryan

 

 

 

How to Sleep Train a Toddler and Regain Your Sanity

 

Once your precious gift from the heavens (part of the time at least) enters the toddler phase of their development, ages 1 to 3, establishing good sleep patterns, habits and rules is essential to a well-rested and healthy child and a sane parent.

Once your little explorers start waddling or running around and learning the world around them getting a good night’s rest is essential to their development and doing it in their own bed and room is essential for their creation of independence.

So if you want to enjoy the blissful side of parenthood and have an independent toddler who sleeps through the night and on their own follow these tips…

 

Have a Plan

This may be the most important tip of all. A general doesn’t go into war without a plan right? A football team doesn’t go into a game without a playbook and architect doesn’t begin creating a building without a sketch. Come up with a game plan. When you will schedule nap time? What you will do if your child wakes up in the middle of the night? What will you do if your child refuses a nap or bedtime? What tone will you have when you request they go to bed? How firm will you be? Map out all of the obstacles in your journey to sleep training your toddler and determine how you will overcome them.

 

Don’t Nap Too Long or Too Late

 

This one should be relatively simple, think of how well you sleep at night on days that you happen to take a late afternoon or early evening nap or nap for more than an hour? Probably not to well. Make sure your toddler’s nap schedule align with their mid-day and that they don’t over nap, all this will lead to is an active little ball of energy in the middle of the night.

 

Reward Progress

 

Little people are just like us, they enjoy positive reinforcement and respond to rewards or incentive for continued good behavior or performance. Create a calendar or a board of some sort with stars or smiley faces or stickers or whatever your child is into and place a new one for every time that they obey your sleep commands or stay in bed all night. This will motivate them and build a foundation of self-confidence and self-worth as well. If they are really doing a great job offer larger rewards like ice cream or toys!

 

Take a Chill Pill

 

Toddlers can be a little feisty or defiant if they don’t want to do something or are uncomfortable with a change in their routine, as such they may throw a tantrum or give you some adorably naughty sass. Keep your cool and assert your dominance and don’t match their emotion or let them steer you away from your well thought out plan.

 

Have A Last Call

 

You probably are past the bar hopping portion of your life (R.I.P. 2 AM Taco Bell runs) but I know you remember the last call in a bar or a club when the desperate single people on the prowl know it’s time to lock up and solidify whatever rendezvous they are pursuing for the evening (or to just ask the pretty lady that you might of she would want to hangout sometime if you’re me). The same sort of mental cue can be trained into your toddler consciousness and be apart of their sleep schedule. Have a certain song or phrase or action or gentle warning that you constantly use that will teach your little one that is playtime is over and it is time to go to sleep.

 

Feel free to share any other tips you may have and good luck in your journey to a well-rested toddler!

 

-Ryan

Sleeping During the Hot Summer

 

As you may know by now through personal experience or by doing some research on this website or elsewhere, the ideal  sleeping temperature that is most conducive to restful sleep is 65 degrees to 68 degrees.

During the summertime when it may be hot enough to cook an egg outside (seriously, I live in Arizona this is a thing), as you can imagine it can be extremely difficult to get your room to be that temperature without a massive utilities bill.

So how do you overcome this and still get a great night’s rest? (in addition to a fan or multiple fans on full bast) Read below…

Stay Hydrated and Don’t Exercise at Night

Staying hydrated will keep you cooler, it is a good idea to keep some water ready to drink by your bed as well. Also, exercising increases your heart rate and raises your body temperature for the duration of your workout and the few hours after, this means you should get your workout in during the morning, afternoon or early evening during the summer.

 

Avoid Ice Cold Water Before Bed

This seems a little counter intuitive right? Drinking ice cold water reduces metabolism and digestion which in turn decreases your hydration and ability to cool off. Stick with room temperature water before bed.

 

Put your Pillow Cases, Blankets and Sheets in the Freezer 30 to 40 minutes Before Bedtime

Sound a little crazy, but it can do wonders to lower your body temperature to the optimal level as they will stay cool for 30 to 40 minutes on your bed, the time it typically takes to fall into a deep sleep

 

Open Your Windows an Hour Before Bedtime

This will increase air circulation and cool down the room. You want to close them before falling asleep though as the room will begin heating up more over the course of the night as your body temperature lowers in deep sleep mode, this difference in temperature can wake you from a deeper sleep.

 

Keep it Light and Mild

 

Eating a heavy meal or a spicy meal within a few hours of bedtime causes your body temperature to rise and the need for your body to digest the larger meal can lead to some lack of comfort-ability and prevent you from winding down.

 

Try Performance Sleep Wear

Much like performance workout gear that is designed to keep your body cool or warm, there are numerous types and brands of performance sleep wear that are designed to keep you cool and comfortable. Look for reviews and recommendations for these items on this website!