The modern world is giving us reason to sleep more. Now sleep researchers are saying that we need to get eight-and-a-half hours of rest every night because we are so stressed out.
Pennsylvania State University professor, study author and sleep expert Dr Daniel Gartenberg explains why eight hours is just not enough.
He says the night needs to be stretched to eight-and-a-half hours. “If anything, I think we need more sleep now because we are bombarded with so much information.
“One of the main functions of sleep is to take all the information we get throughout the day and sort into what’s relevant.”
We’re taking in more information than ever – about 34GB a day – and the brain needs more processing time.
“At the end of the day, there’s not just the right amount of sleep, there is also getting the right quality of sleep,” says Dr Gartenberg.
Light from screens – especially our ever-present smartphones – is in part to blame for sleeplessness, but we may be able to leverage them for better too, he says, and work on projects that aim to do just that.
Dr Gartenberg’s solution is an app called Sonic Sleep, which uses “pink noise” to “round out other sounds” and prevent them from waking you in
Noise at night stimulates the brain and may cause you to wake.
Dr Gartenberg’s system aims to control that sound stimulation. The practice also involves “sleep hygiene’” – doing things like keeping cell phones out of the bedroom (unless you’re using the Sonic Sleep app). And cognitive training – undoing links between the bed and bad thoughts. Plus, learning relaxation techniques.
These techniques are more important now than ever for many people who are getting too little sleep, Dr Gartenberg says. “Probably around 95% of people need between seven and 8.5 hours,” he adds.
That’s much more than we ever thought. So much for famous non-sleepers such as Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher , both of whom claimed they could get by on as little as four hours of sleep.
Dr Gartenberg says: “With cell phones and social media, our brains are always a little on; our fight-or-flight response is always just a little bit activated, so there’s this low-level anxiety that you may not even notice, but it’s there and you have to train yourself out of it.” Good luck!