on sleep.

What does good sleep really mean?

When you try googling this question, you will find lots of services, products, and advice columns telling you that you’re sleeping wrong. Not enough sleep, not quality sleep, the wrong position. Even worse, some even make claims that not sleeping “right” will lead to sickness and a shorter life.

But how do you figure out what “right” sleep actually means for you?

1. Ideal sleep length is individual

Seven to eight hours of sleep, while recommended for adults, is just an average — some need nine hours, but some are just fine with six hours.

While it's true that not getting enough sleep in the long term is associated with health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression, fixating on seven to eight hours ignores the fact that the optimal duration of a good night's sleep is different for different people.

source: TED Audio Collective, Dr. Jen Gunter – link.

2. Thinking too much about sleep causes sleep problems

In 2019, it was estimated that 21 percent of adults in the US used sleep tracking devices. And that number is probably growing.

Of course it's fascinating to see how much sleep you've gotten each night and to know which parts of your night were spent in deep sleep or dreaming. But having all of that sleep data is causing some people to become obsessed with it, so much so that it’s leading to anxiety and the constant need to achieve perfect sleep.

This, ironically, is causing more sleep problems.

3. How to know if your sleep is good enough?

It’s all individual.

According to Dr. Colleen Carney, a psychologist and the head of the Ryerson University Sleep Lab, there are three basic questions you should ask yourself to assess your sleep quality:

  1. Do I feel reasonably well-rested during the day?
  2. Do I generally sleep through the night without disturbances? Or, if I wake up, can I easily fall back asleep?
  3. Can I stay awake through the day without involuntarily falling asleep?

If you answered yes to all three questions, you probably don't need to worry about your sleep.

Occasional sleep disturbances and waking up at night sporadically are all normal and don't affect your health.

If you feel like you're waking up not as rested as you'd like, examine your sleeping environment, including the pillow, mattress, temperature, air flow, etc. Then, assess your daily routines and habits, stress levels and length of time when you remain sitting indoors and/or exposed to screens. Some tweaks during your daytime activities will likely improve your satisfaction with sleep.

If you answered no to most questions and/or you are concerned with you sleep…

… try talking with your doctor first to make sure there aren't any medical conditions that need to be explored. Then try evidence-based recommendations laid out in this Collection.

If you need additional assistance, there's a highly effective therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I. It doesn't involve medications, and it has been proven to be highly effective.

Want to learn scientifically-proven tips on how to improve sleep quality, and read a little Happy Sleeper poem we put together? Yes, we know, it sounds exciting.

Continue reading in the stoic app.

This is only the first part of lessons on sleep, 4 more are waiting for you in the app!
Sleep well!