(NaturalNews) When determining how much sleep you really need, there is no right or wrong answer. The average seven and a half to eight hours is a good benchmark for most people to aim for, but some people require more sleep than others. How much sleep you need is affected by a number of important factors, such as your age, gender and whether or not you are currently sleep deprived.
Getting enough sleep every night is vitally important to your health and well being. Even one night of sleeplessness can distort your appetite, your mood and your ability to handle stress. Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk of high blood pressure, obesity and edema. Over time sleep can even affect your chances of developing metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes.
If you use an alarm clock to get you up in the morning, that is a telltale sign that you are not getting enough sleep. The fact that you rely on an alarm clock to wake you up every day shows that your body is not rested enough to wake naturally.
A simple test you can use to determine if you`re getting enough sleep is to go to bed fifteen minutes earlier that you normally would. See if you still need an alarm clock to wake up. If you do, try going to bed another fifteen minutes earlier. Continue in this manner until you reach a point where you wake up naturally in the morning without an alarm clock. That`s how many hours of sleep you need each night.
The test above is recommended by Michael Breus, PhD, who is the author of the book "Beauty Sleep" as well as the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona. Breus also reminds us that our sleep requirements will change over time and that they may need to be reassessed occasionally. Many of us need more sleep in times of stress, illness or even just during the wintertime when daylight hours are shorter.
These days it`s all too easy to let our responsibilities get in the way of a good night`s rest. Learning to prioritize is a must if you haven`t been getting enough rest. If getting enough sleep is especially difficult for you, try to pick a certain number of days each week when you will commit to prioritizing sleep. Your diet can also have a huge effect on sleeping patterns. Caffeine, alcohol and sugar can all affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...