Chronic lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health, so you can’t skimp on sleep on weekdays, thinking you’ll “catch up” over the weekend. You need consistency. Generally speaking, adults need between six and eight hours of sleep every night. There are plenty of exceptions though. Some people might need as little as five hours a night, while others cannot function optimally unless they get nine or 10 hours.
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My strong recommendation and advice is quite simply to listen to your body. If you feel tired when you wake up, you probably need more sleep. Frequent yawning throughout the day is another dead giveaway that you need more shut-eye. Personally, I find that when I am reading during the day, if my eyes close and I tend to doze off, I know I did not get enough sleep the night before. However, above all, should insomnia strike, don’t make the mistake of reaching for a sleeping pill.
Not only do sleeping pills not address any of the underlying causes of insomnia, researchers have repeatedly shown that sleeping pills don’t work, but your brain is being tricked into thinking they do… One analysis found that, on average, sleeping pills help people fall asleep approximately 10 minutes sooner, and increase total sleep time by a mere 15-20 minutes. They also discovered that while most sleeping pills caused poor, fragmented sleep, they induced amnesia, so upon waking, the participants could not recall how poorly they’d actually slept!
In terms of health consequences, this could end up being worse than not sleeping and being aware of that fact. At least then you’d be encouraged to find and address the root cause of your sleeplessness. Besides not working as advertised, sleeping pills have also been linked to significant adverse health effects, including a nearly four-fold increase in the risk of death, and a 35 percent increased risk of cancer.