Everyone knows the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Goldilocks enters the bear’s vacant home and finds the parent’s chairs too hard or too soft, their porridge too hot or too cold and their beds too soft or too firm all the while finding that baby bear had everything “just right”. For Goldilocks she had three choices and found moderation was the best decision for her. When it comes to making choices about anything in life we have read and also warned about having too much of anything can be harmful to our health and well-being. When it comes to our health it also detrimental if there is any deficiency in our diet, how we keep fit and how well we sleep. Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes. Extremes are taking anything to its limit whether it may be too much or too little. Even though everyone is individual an attempt to moderate oneself there is no specific goal nor guide one can use, but sleep experts believe anyone can determine how many hours of sleep they need by a process of elimination. How is moderation applied to sleep?
Although I am not an expert on sleep I have found through research that the number of hours depend on your age and gender. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) states there is no “magic number” because researchers are learning about a person’s basal sleep need which is the amount of sleep our bodies need on a regular basis for optimal performance and sleep debt or the accumulated sleep that is lost to poor sleep habits, sickness, awakenings due to environmental factors or other causes. Studies recommend that healthy adults basal sleep need is seven to eight hours of sleep each night, but there are times when you have circadian dips when you are more sleepy and less alert, for example, afternoon sleepiness. Lack of sleep can increase accidents, decrease your performance levels and cause physical and psychological health problems as well as enlarge your waist line.
Alternatively, some research has found long sleep durations of nine hours or more are associated with increase morbidity and mortality even though there are no definitive conclusions to this belief. Long sleep periods are linked to low socioeconomic status and depression. The fact that low socioeconomic status results in longer sleep may be due to undiagnosed illnesses because of poor medical care.
The key is how much sleep is too much or too little. Identifying your sleep need is taking a look at your sleeping habits and how well you manage your activities during the day. Is it hard for you to fall asleep easy at night because you aren’t tired but are irritable and sleepy during the day? You are not getting enough sleep. Has your appetite increase? There is a link between sleep deprivation and increased appetite. What lifestyle factors affect the quality and quantity of sleep you need to manage your stress and work/home schedules? What is important is that you pay attention to your own individual needs and how you feel on different amounts of sleep. Are you happy, healthy and productive on seven hours of sleep? The process of elimination begins with trying to sleep on different amounts of sleep each night and determining how you feel the next day. You may also try keeping a sleep diary to track your sleep habits over a one- or two-week period. If you need wake at 7am and you can without an alarm, you don’t feel a need for a nap in the afternoon and your performance levels do not diminish during the day these are three major factors to establish the number of hours of sleep YOU need.
Now you need to be consistent with your sleep/wake schedule even on weekends. Allow at least an hour before you need to be asleep to start your bedtime routine. This may include; a bath, getting your pajamas on, brushing your teeth and/or having a cup of decaffeinated SleepyTime tea or a glass of warm milk. Making sure your sleep environment is cozy, quiet, dark and pet free. Goldilocks knew when it was “just right”. You need to make sleep a priority and find how any hours of sleep are “just right” for you to live a healthy and happy life. The content provided in Goldilocks and the three choices, a lesson about moderation and how it applies to sleep is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.