Is 6 Hours of Sleep Enough for an Adult?
We often hear how important it is to get enough sleep, but what constitutes “enough,” and how strict are those guidelines anyway?
After all, there are only so many hours in the day and a lot to keep us awake at night. When we are busy, overwhelmed, overworked, or stressed, sleep can be the first thing we let fall to the wayside.
Even excitement, an active mind, or over-stimulation can make it difficult to fall asleep early enough to experience the full seven to nine hours of shut-eye recommended before we have to be awake the following morning.
So, when it really comes down to it, is six hours of sleep enough?
The short answer: usually not. While you may get away with six hours of sleep here and there, those lost hours will likely catch up with you over time.
But, if getting more than six hours of sleep each night feels like an unattainable dream, don’t worry. There are ways to change your routine to help you get a better and fuller night of ZZZs.
Why Is Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Important?
When we’re asleep, our body is actually using that time to get quite a lot done. These resting hours give the mind and body a much-needed chance to focus all of its energy on repair and rebalance.
Here are some of the most important tasks our bodies tackle as we sleep.
Lower Stress and Balance Hormone Levels
When we sleep, our body has a chance to reset. Part of this reset includes balancing out hormone levels.
Most notably, the production of the stress level cortisol is inhibited during parts of our sleep cycle, meaning we are more likely to experience reduced stress and tension after getting enough sleep. One study found that cortisol production and associated stress levels were higher the night after participants experienced partial sleep deprivation.
Meanwhile, the production of insulin growth factor (IGF) hormones increases during sleep, which can support healthy muscle growth.
Whether you’ve run a marathon or spent the day on your feet at work, your daily activities can wear down your muscles. Sleep is vital to the muscle recovery process, as our resting hours provide the time our body needs to tend to and rebuild muscles in need of support.
Strengthen Our Immune System
Clinical studies suggest that those who get over seven hours of sleep are four times less likely to get sick than those who get only five to six hours of sleep each. This is because our immune systems can reach their peak function during sleep, as fewer other body functions require attention.
Chronic stress can also negatively impact our immune system. High levels of stress can lower the amount of infection-fighting white blood cells available to help ward off colds and viruses.
High levels of stress hormones can also hinder the effectiveness of infection-fighting T-cells, meaning that the role of sleep in lowering cortisol can also positively impact the immune system.
Sleep also plays a role in helping regulate emotions. As our minds recharge throughout the night, REM sleep helps trigger emotional and behavioral benefits that can prepare us for social and emotional functioning the following day.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our emotions can feel out of whack. In fact, one study found that even a single night of sleep deprivation could amplify participants’ emotional response to negative feelings by 60%.
Sharpen the Mind
Sleep is essential for proper cognitive performance. By giving neurons a chance to recharge, getting enough sleep leads to better attention, memory, and focus. Sleep is also when the body clears out toxins that can accumulate in the brain throughout the day.
When your neurons don’t have the time to recover properly, your judgment, reflexes, concentration, and memory suffer. If you’ve ever felt like you were in a bit of a haze after a sleepless night, you are familiar with the unpleasant brain fog associated with sleep deprivation.
Maintain Our Circadian Rhythm
Our bodies run on an internal clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. This cycle resets approximately every 24 hours and helps influence several biological functions, such as metabolism and stress response.
Insufficient sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythm and have far-reaching effects on other vital functions our internal clock helps regulate.
What Happens if I Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
With so much internal action taking place during rest, it’s no surprise that lack of sleep can negatively affect our overall health.
Ongoing lack of sleep can weaken the immune system, affect memory function, negatively impact your mental health, and increase the risk of developing various health conditions.
And even just a few nights of missed sleep can contribute to daytime sleepiness and impact your mental performance, reaction time, energy levels, mood, and decision-making abilities.
How Much Sleep Do I Really Need Each Night?
How much sleep you need each night depends on a few different factors, the most important of which is age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for different age groups is as follows:
- Teenagers (14–17 years): eight to ten hours
- Adults (18–64 years): seven to nine hours
- Older adults (65+): seven to eight hours
The National Sleep Foundation acknowledges different people may need different amounts of sleep. That six hours of sleep may be acceptable for some in certain circumstances, consistently getting only six hours of sleep or less is not recommended.
What Other Factors Affect How Much Sleep I Need?
Along with age, genetics, sleep quality, and the amount of energy you expend throughout the day can all affect how much sleep you need.
When determining how much sleep you need, it’s important to note that even if you typically feel okay after getting only six hours of sleep, you may still be suffering from negative impacts of lack of sleep on your health and cognitive function without realizing it.
One study found that participants rated themselves as well-rested after getting six hours of sleep on an ongoing basis but performed worse in mental tests than those who got a consistent eight hours of sleep each night.
The importance of the quality of your sleep goes hand in hand with the importance of sleep duration. If you’re experiencing poor sleep quality, you’ll likely feel tired and off-kilter even if you’ve got the recommended hours. Similarly, if you’re getting good sleep quality, you may feel well-rested even with less sleep.
An essential measure of sleep quality involves how much time you spend in the four main stages of sleep.
What Are the Four Sleep Stages?
Our sleep cycle consists of four main stages of sleep: NREM (stage 1), NREM (stage 2), Delta Sleep (Stage 3), and REM Sleep (Stage 4).
The third stage of NREM–also known as N3, Slow-Wave Sleep, Delta Sleep, or Deep Sleep–is considered the most restorative stage of sleep, as vital functions such as memory consolidation, hormone balancing, brain detoxification, and muscle repair occur during this stage of deep sleep.
Rapid Eye Movement, or REM, sleep is also essential for cognitive function and memory. This stage is when brain waves become more active, and dreams are most common and vivid.
We typically don’t enter REM sleep until we’ve been asleep for at least 90 minutes, and we spend more time in REM sleep as the night goes on.
We must cycle through all four stages a few times to get high-quality sleep. One cycle usually lasts between an hour and a half to two hours, and it is typical to go through four or five cycles each night.
If you don’t get enough total sleep, you likely won’t spend enough time in each stage to properly recharge and wake up feeling well-rested.
How To Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Now that you know how important it is to get enough sleep and get good quality rest, how can you improve your sleep time and fulfill your sleep needs?
- Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule–getting into bed and waking up at the same time each day can help regulate your circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality.
- Check-In With a Healthcare Provider–If you’re continually experiencing poor sleep quality, you may want to speak to a doctor.
- Turn Off the Lights–bright lights and blue lights from electronics can also disrupt your circadian rhythm, limiting melatonin production, a hormone responsible for promoting sleep.
- Build a Relaxing Bedtime Practice–swapping out electronics for a relaxing routine before bedtime can help shift your body into sleep mode. Taking a bath, meditating, listening to music, or drinking soothing herbal tea are all ways to help calm the mind and lower any stress that may inhibit melatonin production.
- Incorporate CBD Into Your Bedtime Routine–CBD provides a number of soothing wellness benefits that can help relax the body and improve your sleep quality when taken before bed.
CBD and Sleep: What Are the Benefits?
CBD is a cannabinoid naturally found within the Cannabis sativa plant that can work with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help regulate biological functions and maintain balance within the body.
By partnering with endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors within the endocannabinoid system, CBD can help calm the mind, ease tension, soothe discomfort, reduce stress levels, and improve sleep quality.
When taken shortly before bed, CBD can help prolong the effects of endocannabinoids like anandamide (known as “the bliss molecule”) in the brain, which can help settle the mind and shift the body into sleep mode.
CBD can also affect serotonin receptors and limit cortisol production, reducing nervous thoughts and stress that can keep us up at night and improve overall sleep quality.
Taking CBD consistently as part of your bedtime routine can help you wind down and drift into sleep earlier, supporting you in getting the right amount of sleep needed to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next day.
Sleep Easy With Peels CBD
Most CBD products are extracted from hemp plants, containing trace amounts of THC, even after complete extraction. But here at Peels, we do things a little differently.
Our bioidentical CBD provides the same soothing and sleep-supporting benefits as the CBD found in hemp. But because there is no THC in orange peels, there will never be any trace of THC in your Peels CBD.
Squeezing in the recommended seven to nine hours into each day may feel challenging, but building a consistent and calming nighttime routine and using CBD to mellow the mind and reduce stress can help you build sustainable sleeping habits to benefit your overall wellness.
Our freshly-squeezed Peels CBD oil for sleep is here to support you in creating a bedtime ritual that works for you.