Good sleep means more than getting enough hours. A consistent sleep schedule matters, too. I’m not getting that these days.
Why not? Well all sorts of reasons not really in my control.
Now my right knee often wakes me up during the night with knee pain. We’ve got one family member who often works well into the night. Another family member whose shift work means he’s often up at 5 am. My preferred sleeping hours are 10-6 but between knee pain, dogs, people, and work schedules that’s just happening. So while I’m getting enough sleep in any given week it’s not happening in regular amounts at regular times.
See this article on the connection between sleep and health
“It’s a familiar question from your health-care provider: Are you getting enough sleep? Studies have shown that adequate sleep, between seven and nine hours for adults, can improve cognition, mood and immune functioning. But new research reveals that it’s not just hours of sleep that count toward mental health benefits. It’s whether that sleep occurs on a regular or irregular schedule. An NPJ Digital Medicine study published in February looked at the sleep habits of more than 2,000 first-year medical residents. The researchers found that variability in sleep habits significantly affected their mood and depression — no matter how many total hours they slept.”
Here’s what my sleep often looks like, from my Garmin watch data:
So that’s roughly 7.5 hours of sleep a night on average. Which should be okay in terms of total sleep. But it’s not. Because I’m not consistently sleeping the same hours.
A recent story in the New York Times talked about the heart health risks of inconsistent sleep.
“New research affirms what doctors have long advised: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for big health benefits.”
See How a Consistent Sleep Schedule Might Protect Your Heart
“Researchers examined a week’s worth of sleep data from 2,000 adults over 45 and found that those who slept varying amounts each night and went to bed at different times were more likely to have hardened arteries than those with more regular sleep patterns.
People whose overall sleep amounts varied by two or more hours from night to night throughout the week — getting five hours of sleep on Tuesday, say, and then eight hours on Wednesday — were particularly likely to have high levels of calcified fatty plaque built up in their arteries, compared with those who slept the same number of hours each night.”
I’m always amazed at people who can regularly get by on 6 hours of sleep or less. That’s so not me. My temperament is pretty even and I’m not very easily upset but I’ve realized that’s all dependent on getting enough sleep, in a consistent and regular way. Once I’m also battling the not-enough-daylight and absence of sun, getting enough sleep is critical.
So I’m going to try regularly going to sleep at 930 and getting up at 530.
Wish me luck!