Many people catastrophize the issue of not sleeping well. Most patients suffering from sleep disorders actually sleep more than they believe they did, but since they remember waking many times throughout the night, the hours just don’t add up. In actuality, if you were monitored in a sleep lab, tracking every precious restorative minute and brain wave in detail, you would be surprised how much rest you are actually getting. However, without this method available to most, we end up believing the worst about our sleep quality.
With an alternative positive perspective, we can start viewing the previous night in a more beneficial light, thus enhancing the day’s events. If you magnify daytime consequences of poor sleep, it increases resentment, stress and anxiety surrounding poorer sleep. Let’s review core sleep requirements to help you identify a different way of looking at decreased sleep.
How much sleep do we need? Generally, each person needs 7- 9 hours of sleep in order to maintain wellness and mental alertness. Of course, there are some that need 4 – 5 hours of sleep, and others that need 10 – 12 hours of sleep. The first 3-4 hours of NREM sleep are highly important as they restore the physiological functions of the body. The last few hours of REM sleep restore the mental and emotional aspects of the brain. Studies have shown that only 3-4 hours of core sleep may not result in performance degradation and you may even thrive, as long as you don’t focus on the negative impact of missing the last few hours of sleep. Missing those hours should not drive you into a worse state of mind. As an experiment, next time you wake after a long night, try re-thinking last night’s tossing and turning. Instead, envision the thought that you achieved good enough sleep, even if you don’t feel perfectly rested.