I know myself, and by the time I'd get home after a long day on the grind, I know I should hit the hay, but I fall prey to scrolling through Instagram for “just a few minutes.” All of a sudden the clock is strikes way past 12. Oops?
Everyone knows we need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but sometimes life (and, erm, social media) gets in the way, and we're left squeezing in a few hours of shut-eye before inevitably pressing snooze five or 10 times once the alarm sounds.
So where's the happy medium?
Well, in a perfect world, it'd be a lot easier if offices just allowed nap time. But opting out of lunch hour for a few minutes of R&R realistically, wouldn't do you any good.
The Amount Of Sleep You Need Varies Individually
According to Dr. Quan of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women's Hospital, there's actually no set number of hours of sleep humans need, in general, to survive the day-to-day. In fact, this is actually determined on an individual scale.
“You have to realize that it is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon,” Quan tells Elite Daily. “If you only get five hours of sleep, you're not paralyzed or nonfunctional. It's not that simple. It's not the hours of sleep alone that determine your functional ability. It's important, but your previously cumulous sleep debt is important as well.”
If you're continuously getting into bed at 1 a.m., only to roll out around 6, you've accumulated what is referred to as a “sleep debt.”
Unfortunately, this is one debt that cannot be repaid. You can't sprinkle naps throughout the week to make up for lost hours. Consistency is key here, so get your body into a routine of sleeping a certain number of hours regularly.
When discussing sleep deprivation, it is also important to note what not to do to compensate for a lack of shut eye.
Omar Burschtin, M.D., director of the Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Medicine Program has some advice. According to Burschtin, sounding the alarm may actually be a negative factor.
He tells Elite Daily:
Ideally, a person needs to wake up without an alarm or few minutes before the alarm. If you always wake up with alarm, that means your sleep was shorter than needed. Alarms are to be used as a safety feature, in order to arrive to school or work on time or for any other purposes.
Waking up prior to an alarm isn't necessarily something that can be trained, however I'd suggest setting your alarm a few minutes later than your used to.
Especially if you're already in a routine from work or school, your body will (most likely) wake itself up naturally at this time. The alarm will become insurance.
When To Reach For Caffeine
And that caffeine-fix you're craving? Resist! Or, at least, try to.
Burschtin strongly suggests "compensation with caffeine products are not ideal," but when you're desperate for a buzz, they do provide a quick fix. Test your limits to determine whether an addiction to coffee is steering the must-have emotions, or if it's just a crutch before the crash.
Bottom line? Sleep quality, not necessarily quantity, will determine how well you function day in and day out. So shut off your phones, step away from the computer screen, close your eyes, and snooze.