The Eight-hour Sleep Myth
Research suggests that the average person needs about eight hours of sleep each night. The problem with that is that you are probably not the average person. There is a good chance you might not need that much.
Saying that everyone needs to get 8 hours is like saying that everyone needs 2500 calories of food because that’s the average need for an adult male. Your food intake needs depends on a lot of different factors and sleep is exactly the same.
Having absolute rules for how much we should sleep is problematic, because sleep is dynamic—there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sleep. It’s up to your body to decide how much sleep it needs. Your sleep needs may vary, depending on the circumstances and even the day of the week. One night you may need seven hours, and the next night you may only need six.
If you spend eight hours in bed trying to sleep when you only need six hours of sleep, you are essentially setting yourself up for two hours of frustration.
The best way to determine how much sleep you need is to pay attention to how you feel during the day. If you generally feel good, well rested, and can think clearly, then it is likely that you are getting close to your sleep need.
Don’t buy into recommendations on how much sleep you need. You and how you feel during the day is the best guide. And as a bonus you won’t waste time staying in bed trying to sleep.
There is no such thing as perfect sleep
A common problem I see in a lot of people that struggles with sleep is that they believe good sleep means they fall asleep at 10 PM and wake up perfectly rested at 7 AM every day. Sleep is messy and is far from a passive state of pure restoration. There is no such thing as perfect sleep.
You sleep in stages, which range from very light sleep to deep sleep. A lot of things happen while you sleep. You toss and turn, you dream, and you wake up. Researchers have found that people without sleep issues wake up about ten to sixteen times a night. Yes that’s true waking up multiple times at night is normal. The people that doesn’t wake have been severely sleep deprived.
Even the best sleepers in the world are likely to wake up. The difference is that people who struggle with sleep tend to notice these awakenings and often fixate on them. When you attach too much importance to waking up, you also tend to have trouble falling asleep again.
Understand that waking up in the middle of the night is normal. Do not put too much pressure on yourself—over time, as you go through our program, you’ll notice that it will become easier to fall asleep again.
An important factor in getting better from sleep problems is letting go of the idea of perfect sleep. There is no such thing and people or devices that promise perfect sleep isn’t going to help you.
Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to sleep, people often make the mistake of believing that quantity is the only important factor. However, the quality of your sleep is as important, if not more important. In fact, it is near impossible to get a good quantity of sleep before quality. Quality sleep involves falling asleep quickly and staying asleep through the night, or when waking up, being able to re-initiate sleep quickly.
When you are struggling with your sleep, it makes sense that you want to get more, but starting with quantity is putting the cart before the horse! It is not the right first step. We believe that it is essential to work on quality first, and only then can we switch focus to getting more sleep. We will work with you to optimize quality of sleep first.
Think of it this way: Imagine having the option between six solid quality hours of sleep or restless, unrefreshing sleep for seven hours. Which one do you choose? Most people prefer the six-hour option.
The great news is that once you achieve good quality sleep, we can help you start figuring out how to extend this quality to include adequate quantity for you.
Our promise to you is that we’ll do our best to assist you in finding a personalized sleep window that improves your sleep quality, and over time, we will help you optimize the right amount of sleep quantity for you as well.