Expert reveals how to find your sleep 'sweet spot'

·Lifestyle Reporter
·4-min read

Getting enough good quality sleep is not only important, but it's fundamental to your overall health and wellbeing.

According to a recent study published in the journal Brain, people who have found their sleep 'sweet spot' - the ideal amount of sleep your body requires - appear to delay cognitive decline and keep their brains sharp.

Woman stretching in bed. Source: Getty Images
Sleep 'sweet spot' refers to an ideal amount of sleep. Source: Getty Images

The study monitored the sleep of 100 older adults who were tested for cognitive decline and evidence of early Alzheimer's disease and found that only those who slept six to eight hours retained stable cognitive functioning.

It's also important to note though that the 'ideal' eight hours of sleep may be enough for some people, but not for others.

Sleep expert Dr Carmel Harrington knows the importance of finding your sleep ‘sweet spot’, and explains to Yahoo Lifestyle the best way to find it.

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What’s the best way to identify your sleep ‘sweet spot’

The In Essence aromatherapy ambassador suggests to test how you feel after waking up and monitor how you feel during the following day.

"If after eight hours of sleep, you feel tired and lack energy and motivation during the day chances are that you are not getting the quantity or quality of sleep you require," she tells us.

“If this is you, try going to bed an hour earlier or sleeping in an extra hour if possible. You may be surprised by how much of a difference just an extra hour of sleep can make.”

Girl looking tired with mug of tea. Source: Getty Images
Try heading to bed an hour earlier to minimise feeling tired. Source: Getty Images

Carmel acknowledges how vital sleep is for physical health, and explains that without adequate sleep we are more susceptible to cold or flu infections.

“Lack of sleep also impacts our productivity and ability to perform because it impairs our capacity to think and learn. Additionally, it is associated with numerous mental health issues including a fivefold increased risk of depression," she adds.

Woman lying in bed hugging pillow. Source: Getty Images
A lack of sleep can cause people to be more susceptible to cold or flu infections. Source: Getty Images

How does hitting your sleep ‘sweet spot’ benefit your health?

Carmel comments how important getting the right amount of sleep is for our body and brain. 

“When we do get the sleep we need on a regular basis our body and brain operate at an optimum, allowing us the best opportunity to be happy, healthy and productive and not suffer all the negative health consequences of sleep deprivation.”

Alarm clock by bedside. Source: Getty Images
Getting the right amount of sleep is vital for both our body and brain. Source: Getty Images

Top tips for getting a good night’s sleep

Carmel explains that to get the best sleep possible we do need to prepare both our mind and body for sleep as "how we sleep at night is often very dependent upon how we spend our day."

To prepare the body we need to:

  • Get up at the same time every day.

  • Exercise for at least 20 minutes per day (a walk at lunchtime is good)

  • Not have caffeine after midday

  • Refrain from alcohol

  • Not sleep during the day (a nap of 20 minutes is ok)

  • Eat only a small meal at night and especially no big meal within 3 hours of bedtime.

  • Refrain from exercise within 3 hours of bedtime (this will alert the body)

Sleep mask on white bedding. Source: Getty Images
Getting up at the same day can ease your brain and body into a good sleeping routine. Source: Getty Images

To prepare the mind we need to:

"Deal with the issues of the day: in the early evening spend no more than 20 minutes writing events of the day that are of concern along with potential solutions. Close the book and put it away," she says.

  • Set an alarm one hour before bedtime

  • Turn off all technology

  • Dim the lighting in the room you are in

  • Warm-hot shower

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