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How Much Sleep Do You Need?

By Expert HERWriter
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Insomnia related image Photo: Getty Images

How many hours of sleep do you need every night? How many hours are required by your body? A new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 35 percent of Americans are not getting at least seven hours of solid sleep which is a huge problem for the way that we feel and function in our life.

Your circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle, is controlled by the hypothalamus in your brain, which also regulates your thirst, hunger, weight, metabolism, sexual behavior and body heat. The hypothalamus is programmed to require about seven hours of sleep, and if you’re missing out or short-changing yourself then a lot of downstream effects occur.

The CDC found in their studies that top symptoms included: fatigue, trouble concentrating, trouble remembering things, and difficulty driving/commuting due to the fatigue. Research also shows that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain (by decreasing your "fullness" hormone and increasing your "hunger" hormone), worsen hormone symptoms, and worsen irritability.

So I ask again, how many hours of sleep are you getting and how do you feel the next day? Chronically missing sleep builds on itself causing you to feel poorly or feel symptomatic all the time. This means if you don’t sleep well Monday through Friday and try to make up for it on the weekends you still feel tired.

My suggestion is to reset your sleep patterns and stick to it. You may not feel the benefits immediately because you have a lot of hours to make up, however over time it should improve. Shut off the computer and television a good half hour before bed. Wind down with a cup of relaxing tea, read a book, flip through a magazine, listen to music, and start to dim the lights. Your hypothalamus responds to the amount of light stimulation through your optic nerve in your eyes. If you have every light on in your house plus the computer and television then you could be setting your sleep up for failure.

There are times when you aren’t going to sleep well, especially if something is on your mind or just before your period, however if you can work slowly to implement these new habits your body will thank you!

1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr
2. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-12-06-sleep-weight-gain_x.htm

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Sleep also helps to reduce cancer risk. You can learn more in Five Lifestyle Strategies to Reduce Cancer Risk at https://www.empowher.com/cancer/content/five-lifestyle-strategies-reduce-cancer-risk.

March 10, 2011 - 11:26am
EmpowHER Guest

Carrie - an excellent article. Too many people are sacrificing sleep and too many people have sleeping difficulties. A survey by Third Pillar of Health at The Vitality Show recently showed that whilst average sleep duration in women (at the show) was an acceptable 7 hours and 15 minutes 76% of respondents did not feel as thought they achieved sufficient sleep. The main reasons were insufficient time, worries and stresses and being woken by a partner. It's crucial that people know how to achieve sufficient good quality sleep. I would recommend a new site (www.sleepknow.com). They have worked with leading scientists to put together a personalised sleep test and a sleep trinaing programme for all you need to know on night time sleep and personal energy. Good article and well done for spreading the word.

March 8, 2011 - 11:52am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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