What is the purpose of sleep?

Sleep functions as a way to restore and revive your body, getting it ready to function again the next day. Your learning, stamina, health, mood, memory, and learning can all be affected by the duration and quality of your sleep. Sleep can even help the immune system fight off diseases. Therefore, sleep is a very important aspect of our lives and issues with your quality and duration of sleep can lead to negative health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

How much sleep should I be getting?

  • Infants aged 4-11 months need 12-15 hours of sleep
  • Children aged 6-13 years need 9-11 hours of sleep
  • Teenagers aged 14-17 need 8-10 hours of sleep
  • Adults aged 18-64 need 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Older adults aged 65+ need 7-8 hours of sleep

How long should it take me to fall asleep?

Typically, people take between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you are falling asleep immediately every night or if you believe you are functioning well on tiny amounts of sleep, you could actually be sleep deprived.

How can I get better sleep?

Make sure your bedroom is dark and a cool temperature

  • Some people enjoy having a white noise machine or a fan on when they sleep.

Use your bed only for sleeping

  • Try not to read a book or work in your bed.

Avoid caffeine from mid-afternoon on

  • Try a decaf coffee or tea if you are used to consuming caffeine throughout your day.

Turn off all electronics and screens an hour before you’d like to go to sleep

  • The blue light can increase the time it takes you to sleep, and falling asleep in front of a screen can cause low quality sleep because of the exposure to light through the eyelids.

Replace your mattress if it is over 7-10 years old

  • It may no longer be providing you enough support or have accumulated allergens.

How do I know what kind of sleeper I am?

You may have heard people call those who like to stay up late “night owls” and those who like to wake up early “early birds.” These categorizations are similar to chronotypes, your preferred sleep/wake schedule based on your circadian rhythm. There are four chronotypes: Dolphin, Lion, Bear, and Wolf. Click here to take a quiz to determine what chronotype you may be and learn a bit about how you can change your chronotype or use it to your advantage.

Could lack of sleep be contributing to my struggle with mental health?

Yes, definitely! Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the amount of sleep you get. If this difference is large, you could be at an increased risk for certain mental health conditions such as anxiety.

Additional Resources

Psychology Today

TED Talk – Sleep is Your Superpower

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