One of the many lessons learned thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic is that the pace at which many of us were living pre-lockdown was ridiculously fast. With only 24h in day and multiple demands on our time from work, family responsibilities, social commitments, sport and recreational activities, many of us fell into that trap of overcommitment. When that happens, we tend to steal time from sleep, and it is unsurprising that before long we end up burnt out and in a heap of exhaustion. Recognising the crucial role that sleep plays in our day-to-day recovery and long term ability to thrive has the power to change everything.
Current guidelines recommend that adults require between 7-9h of sleep per night for optimal physical and mental health. What I really like about these guidelines, is that they recognise that 6h is sufficient for some people, while for others 10h is necessary. This is not licence to go rogue and get away with as little sleep as possible. Rather it implies that we each have a unique sleep “sweet spot”. Bear in mind too that your sleep need changes depending on what’s happening in your world at any given time. If you are training hard for an athletic event, your sleep need will increase, as it will when you are ill or very stressed. You may notice that you can get away with less sleep in summer than winter, and that on holiday, once you have repaid some sleep debt, your sleep need may reduce.