Is 5 Hours of Sleep Enough?

 •  March 02, 2020

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We all struggle with our own unique daily grind and sometimes it just feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. If you follow all of the health advise out there it may feel like you have to get up early for a work out, work your whole day to pay the bills, come home and cook a healthy meal, meal prep for the next day, and then somehow spend time with your loved ones in between. By the time you actually head to bed it could be midnight… only to need to get up early and repeat the process the next day. But how much sleep is enough? 5 hours? 6?

Alarm clock

How much is enough?

The short answer is: it depends. There is a fraction of people out there who are short sleepers. Short sleepers only need between 4 and 6 hours of sleep to function well. Only about 1% of us are short sleepers though and unless you have spoken to a doctor who has confirmed that you fall into this category, it’s probably safe to assume that you are not one of them. For the rest of us, the FDA recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Everyone is different so there is not one magic number but generally waking up rested and feeling energized throughout your day is a good sign.

One way to promote good sleep is to pay attention to your natural internal sleep clock, or your circadian rhythm. When you begin to feel tired at night, don’t open up your phone to start browsing social media. Instead, start your sleep routine to signal to your brain that it’s time to start winding down. Having a consistent bedtime and wake time will help your body fall into a natural pattern of sleep and promote a more regular cycle.

6 Tips for Great Sleep:
  • Make your room as dark as possible. Use room darkening blackout curtains and turn off any glowing electronics.
  • Don’t check your phone before bed. The blue light emitted from your phone screen may delay the release of melatonin in your body and inhibit your ability to go to sleep.
  • Engage in a relaxing activity before sleep. Practicing meditation, reading, or writing in a journal are all ways to help your brain slow down before going to sleep.
  • Get a white noise machine. White noise not only provides a predictable and soothing noise environment inside your room, but also helps to keep out other environmental noises such as traffic or a roommate’s television show.
  • Establish boundaries with children. If you have children, you have likely chatted with other parents about the differences in your household bedtimes rules. If your kids are constantly getting up and joining you in bed in a way that disrupts your sleep, consider defining for them when it is appropriate to do so in a more specific way.
  • Set your alarm for bedtime and honor it. It’s possible that at first you will be leaving some things unfinished in your day but, as you move forward, you may find that you adjust your time management to fit your new schedule. Or perhaps you will find that there are things it is okay to remove from your daily task list.
  • Talk with your doctor. If you are experiencing issues beyond just finding the time to sleep such as persistent insomnia or discomfort, don’t just suffer through it. Reach out to a medical professional to see if relief is possible.
Alert at work
The importance of sleep

You may feel like you can get by with less than 7 hours of sleep but something to keep in mind is that not getting enough sleep can come with harmful side effects. Some of those include heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. In the end, the science is clear. Is 5 hours of sleep enough? The simple answer is no. Sleep is important and we should all get in the habit of treating it that way. If you have the option to shut your devices off at 10 PM instead of midnight, then crawl into bed, curl up with a good book, and start to feel the benefits. Your body will thank you!

Sources: Guerra, Julia. “You Can Get By On Only 5 Hours Of Sleep, But Here's Why You Definitely Shouldn't.” Elite Daily, Elite Daily, 17 Jan. 2018, www.elitedaily.com/p/is-5-hours-of-sleep-enough-you-can-get-by-but-heres-why-you-shouldnt-try-it-7931297.
“The Sneaky Ways That Blue Light Can Interfere With Your Kids' Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-blue-light-affects-kids-sleep.
“Sleeping Tips & Tricks.” National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips.

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