This Is How Much Sleep We Need … And How To Actually Get It

The National Sleep Foundation (I didn’t know there was one either!) released its new recommendation for sleep durations and for the first time it’s broken down by age groups. I may not be a scientist, but I think that makes a whole lot of sense. According to the NSF, this is how much sleep we need…

Sleep duration recommendations

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)

Some of you are reading this and thinking “I WISH I was getting 7-9 hours of sleep per day!” We’ve all been there. Work, chores, and binge watching “Friends” on Netflix gets in the way. However, in the last two years I realized that the amount of sleep I got directly correlated to my weight and self body image. In fact, sleep deprivation increases hunger hormones, decreases levels of fullness hormone, and stores fat. When I’m sleep deprived, I am more likely to stuff my face with a donut and/or a slice of pizza, and then feel bad about it…and then eat more to comfort myself! I find myself in a downward spiral and highly irritable.

So in the last two years, I’ve made a serious effort to get more sleep and it’s really helped me lean out and stop obsessing about the scale. Here are a few tips that worked for me.

1. DO NOT DISTURB – I’m not talking about the hotel door sign but rather one of my favorite iPhone settings. iPhones have a magical setting that allows you to silence your phone for a certain time. For me, my phone is on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode from 10:30 pm – 7 am. To clarify, that’s not how long I sleep. It’s just the time my phone automatically stops beeping, buzzing, and ringing. That means that your work emails and texts can wait! What about emergency phone calls, you ask? Incoming calls from your “Favorites” will not be silenced. And for any other phone numbers? A second call from the same person within three minutes will not be silenced.

How do you do this? Open your iPhone. Click Settings > Click Do Not Disturb > Set to your preferences.

This function allows me to close my “office hours”, decompress, and prepare my body and mind for rest.

2. EYE MASK & EAR PLUGS – You will laugh, but it works for me. It took me a few days to get used to it, but the complete darkness and silence helps in NYC. Experts suggest setting a nightly routine to trigger signals to your brain that it’s time to shut down. This is what the eye mask and ear plugs do for me. The moment the mask goes over my eyes, my brain knows it’s sleepy time.

3. HYDRATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY – I found that I have a tendency to drink water right before bed, and then I wake up in the middle of the night to pee. Stay hydrated throughout the day with these tricks to ensure you drink your eight glasses, so you don’t pee in the middle of the night and disrupt your sleep cycle.

4. SLEEP CYCLE APP – This app not only tracks and rates your sleep patterns but it’s also an alarm clock that wakes you up when you’re not in your deep REM cycle. Sleep Cycle monitors your sleep and will wake you up when you’re in your lightest sleep so you don’t wake up groggy and naturally feel refreshed.

How do you do this? The app is placed next to your pillow and monitors your movements while you sleep (supposedly). I don’t rely on this app regularly anymore, but it really helped me track my sleep patterns and help me figure out what helps me sleep better.

5. CREATE A SANCTUARY – My bed is my sanctuary and reserved for sleep only. I don’t blog in it, I don’t watch TV in it, I don’t jump on it, and I don’t leave junk on it. I also make my bed every most mornings. That way when it’s time for bed, it’s inviting. The way I see it, your bed is where you spend a quarter to a third of your life. It might as well look and feel nice which is why I’ve invested in great bedding over time. It’s made a HUGE difference. However, I wish my bed looked like this…

Joss and Main

6. KEEP A SCHEDULE – This is the hardest thing to do but sticking with a consistent sleep schedule is just as important as getting the 7-9 hours in my opinion. For me, I’ve found that getting six or seven hours consistently is better than getting eight hours here or there. Get to bed at the same time every night (+/- 1 hour) and get up around the same time. It makes a huge difference.

7. MEDITATE & PRAY – Spending a few minutes meditating and talking to God helps me let go of the stresses of the day. Otherwise, I spend the last few minutes of day replaying stressful work situations, making a mental checklist of all the things I have to do the next day, and more. And then I find myself lying awake at night counting sheep, which doesn’t work for me. Take a moment practicing gratitude and focusing on things that matter most.

As you can tell, I don’t mess around when it comes to my sleep. Actually, I’m a little diva I admit. Sleep is an essential part of healthy living. Working out and eating well are fruitless if you don’t allow your body to rest, repair, and refuel.

I want to hear from you! Do you get 7-9 hours of sleep? What is your sleep routine and what works for you?

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  • Yeah, I definitely don’t get 7-9 hours of sleep on a typical night. I do wish though! We always used to have a TV in our bedroom but not since we moved into our house. I thought I’d miss it, but I really don’t! We also keep our phones out of the bedroom at night which is helpful. We’re old school and use an actual alarm clock (crazy, right?). The two things that disturb my sleep – 1) dreaming about work, which happens way too much when I’m stressed out and dealing with long hours, and 2) drinking too much water too close to when I hit the sack because I’ll inevitably wake up in the middle of the night – or like an hour before my alarm is going to go off!

    • @Lisa_earlymorningrun:disqus – I truly feel like one of the most annoying things in life is waking up close, but not too close, to the alarm. And also dreaming about work…that’s where the meditating/praying has really helped me. I personally just feel better on those nights. Lastly, I think having an alarm clock is so much better. However, I haven’t found a good one i like that doesn’t tick. Even though I sleep with ear plugs, I can still hear stuff. The earplugs just muffle the noise, they don’t completely block out everything.