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How much sleep should you be getting to function at your best?

Image depicting snoring

Sufficient rest and sleep is crucial to our body and mind’s ability to function effectively. Particularly for adults who are returning to study, many, if not most of you, will be juggling several major commitments, such as work and family, on top of your studies.

Making sure that you’re getting enough sleep is absolutely crucial in order for you to function at your best in all the different areas of your life. When you don’t have enough sleep, you might find yourself struggling to focus when learning something or you might find yourself reading the same things over and over again in order to understand it. All of this can waste energy and time.

So how much sleep should you be getting in order to function at your best?

The Sleep Health Foundation in Australia,a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting healthy sleep and safety, says that adults need 8 hours of sleep each day.

We’ve all met people who say they require fewer than 7-8 hours of sleep a night to be at their best, but while there is indeed a gene that some people have that allows them to perform optimally on just 6 hours of sleep, a study carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that this gene is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. The overwhelming odds are that you need the recommended 7–9 hours.

Sleep doesn’t just affect your ability to learn and retain information, it can also directly affect your productivity (both at work and at home), emotional balance, creativity, and even your weight!

That’s because as you rest, your brain is carrying out a range of biological maintenance tasks that will keep you performing in top condition the next day. When you regularly don’t get enough sleep, you’re preventing your body from “repairing its systems”, and much like a car with problems that aren’t getting fixed, over time, this could lead to physical and/or mental issues/problems.

On the other hand, when you get enough sleep, even though you might think you’re not getting as much done, your energy and efficiency levels go up, and you actually end up accomplishing more during your waking hours.

Of course, if you’re juggling studies on top of your regular commitments, there will come times when you might have to choose between staying up late to get a little bit more studying done or going to bed so you can have a decent amount of sleep.