Do We All Have the Same Sleep Needs?Sep 19, 2022
Does one size fit all when it comes to sleep? How those suffering with sleep disorders like insomnia can reclaim their rest by ditching the status quo.
If you have insomnia or find yourself regularly struggling to get a good night’s sleep it’s likely that you have a “magic number” of hours you want to sleep each night, right? Well I have a secret to share: That magic number of sleep hours is bogus. (I’ll explain why in a moment.)
Worse, believing you need to sleep a certain number of hours a night can be a slippery slope and exacerbate sleep issues.
Why is this? It’s because that number tends to produce a lot of anxiety when you’re not hitting it. In fact, there’s a metric you should care about more than the “8 hours” we’ve been conditioned to think we need each night. The number you should care about is SLEEP EFFICIENCY.
Sleep efficiency is the proportion of time you’re actually asleep when you’re in bed. Efficient sleep means that you fall asleep fairly quickly and have only short awakenings during the night.
Do We Really Need 8 Hours of Sleep?
A person may sleep 8 hours, but in that 8 hours, they’ve tossed and turned, woke up to use the bathroom twice, and only got 30 minutes of deep sleep. Conversely, on a different night, the same person could sleep 6 hours, but their sleep is restful and they don’t awaken in the middle of the night at all. The sleep efficiency of the 6-hour night far supercedes the 8 hours of tossing and turning.
When you focus on sleep efficiency vs. that “magic number” of hours you think you need to sleep you’ll find out how many hours of sleep your body really needs.
(And spoiler alert: it’s usually not 8 hours.)
To calculate your sleep efficiency, divide the number of hours you’re actually asleep by the number of hours you spend in bed. For example, if you went to bed at 10:00 pm, fell asleep at midnight, and then woke up at 6:00 am, your sleep efficiency would be 0.75 (6 hours asleep ÷ 8 hours in bed = 0.75).
Sleep efficiency will always be a number between 0 and 1. It’s best to look at your average sleep efficiency over a week’s time vs. focusing on each night’s number. So, an ideal healthy sleep efficiency average for the week would be somewhere between 0.85 and 0.90. This means that you’re sleeping 85-90% of the time you’re in bed.
If you’re math phobic like me and the thought of performing a calculation every day makes you cringe, I’ve got you! Here’s a simple online sleep efficiency calculator that’ll take care of the number crunching for you.
I challenge you to measure your sleep efficiency for 2 weeks.That 2 weeks should ideally be during a “normal” timeframe, meaning that you’re not checking it during a vacation or a time of transition.
Struggling with Insomnia? A Sleep Coach Can Help
As a former insomniac whose mood, energy, and overall health were impacted by a lack of quality sleep, I went on my own journey after a decade of dependence on sleep medication to improve my health and life by improving my own sleep.
Now I work with women to “makeover” their sleep protocols so they fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and wake feeling refreshed.
If your sleep efficiency is lower than 85%, consider booking a complimentary consultation with me to see if My Sleep Makeover 1:1 coaching program would be a good fit for you. And if you want to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and feel more rested when you wake up, download my free Sleep Sanctuary Checklist!