How many hours is enough?

It’s often said that we need between 7-9 hours sleep a night for optimal functioning. However I know for a fact that some people get by on much less and feel perfectly ok. This was highlighted last night when a naturopathic doctor asked me how many hours sleep I had the night before. I told him I had six hours (of course I have nights where I have 7 or 8 and sometimes 9) but the way I judge sleep is by quality and not quantity. I know when I wake up with a bounce to my step and if I am waking up like this I don’t see the need to rush to the doctor or take any drastic measures. This particular person was horrified and told me that I need to rectify this problem. I asked him why there was a problem when I felt great.

I am a firm believer that your body knows best and it will let you know if you are not getting the hours of rest that you need. Are you able to get through the day without feeling like you need a nap? Do you have a spring in your step as you walk to the bus stop? Do you need to rely on coffee and sugar to get you through the day? On this particular night I was being told by the doctor that I was not having enough sleep he was going around the room asking how many people felt tired. I was one of the only people in the room who didn’t put up my hand. And the other people were also saying they got at least 7-8 hours a night.

I don’t know if it is nature or nurture why I wake so early (my step dad used to make me get out of bed at sunrise as he said it was a waste of a day not to) and this habit has been instilled in me like it or not. However I am a morning person and I love waking early and unless I have truly had a shocking night sleep I can’t imagine forcing myself to sleep an extra hour or two for the sake of people who tell me I should be getting more.

I am not alone in this belief, there are many other sleep specialists who do not deem someone to have insomnia if they are feeling good and their immune system is working efficiently. I for one live on less hours than many women I know and I seem to have fewer colds and other ailments as well. I think that we are born with a particular consitution, some just happen to be weaker in areas than others. So don’t judge by how many hours a night you are getting, judge by how you feel and if you are able to perform your daily tasks efficiently. There are some nights when six hours would most certainly not be enough for me. But I would feel this in my body. I think it really depends on what other factors you have going on in your life, the quality of your sleep and how effeciently your body is assimilating nutrients.

Telling an insomniac that they need 8 hours or more sleep can sometimes do more harm than good. Why create extra anxiety. Unless someone is purposely staying up late every night then what’s the point of rubbing in how many hours the person should be getting. Sleep is not necessarily something you say “hey I think I’ll have 9 hours tonight”. Sure an insomniac would love to do this, but if they can’t they can’t and no amount of silly articles written by someone who’s never experienced insomnia will be able to make them. Like they say in the pantene ads, even regarding insomnia, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

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