Stay in Bed: You Need More Than Six Hours of Sleep

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Image via Vogue Archives

Image via Vogue Archives

You don't need to know much about science to know that the number of hours you sleep each night directly correlates with how well your body functions, how well you mentally process information, and how well your emotions remain balanced. 

Sleep works to restore your body, to repair your cells, and to revive your adrenal glands, setting you up for success in your day ahead. But one thing you didn't know about sleep (that you really should beaware of), is that sleeping until your body feels restored isn't necessarily a great idea. Your body has the tendency to under-utilize or over-utilize it's power, and the key to optimal bodily funcitons is to focus on balance.

Keeping your body and mind balanced is a full time job, especially if you're running around focusing on the thousands of things happening internally and externally in your life. So how do you create the best sleep cycle so that you're making the most of your energy levels? Get eight hours of sleep. 

A study published in the journal, Sleep, found that over a two week period, those who had six hours of sleep each night functioned at the same capacity as those who did not sleep for two days—and do you know what the worst part of this is? Those who slept for six hours nightly believed that they were functioning at optimum levels of cognitive function (even though they were underperforming!). 

It's a scary thing to be in denial about your health and wellbeing—but there are steps you can take to reverse the affects of sleeping too little on a nightly basis, says this article published by Fast Company. The first thing is to be actively aware of how much you are sleeping. Be diligent about this, because without this knowledge, you'll fall into another pattern of oversleeping or under sleeping, and that will do you no good if you want to be performing at your best. 

According to Fast Company's article, "Research from University of Chicago, shows that people are as likely to overestimate how much they sleep as underestimate it. Another sleep study published in Epidemiology, indicates people generally overestimate their nightly sleep by around 0.8 hours. The same study also estimates that for every hour beyond six that people sleep, they overestimate sleep by about half an hour. If you think you sleep seven hours a night, as one out of every three Americans does, it's entirely possible you're only getting six."

So, once you move into a place of stronger self-awareness around your sleeping habits, start to cultivate mindful bedtimes and wake times. This will ensure your receive an optimal rest cycle, and will open up the opportunity for you to feel more fresh, be more productive, and tackle your days in ways that you had never previously considered doing. 

Cultivating a relationship with mindfulness can start with rooted, foundational habits such as sleeping, eating, and need-based, self-care. Think about it: If you can't cultivate a solid self-practice with something as simple as good sleep, do you think your other mindfulness practices will be much better?

Diya SenGupta