How Much Sleep Do You Need - The Optimal Sleep Cycle
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How Much Sleep Do You Need?

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how much sleep do you need
How much sleep is enough sleep? BananaStock/BananaStock/Thinkstock

This is a guest post written by Daniel Pardi.

As a sleep researcher and sleep educator, the most common question I get is, “How do I know how much sleep I need?” It’s a tricky question because the benefits of sleep are only partially determined by sleep duration. When people ask this question, what they really mean is, “What are the things I need to do in order for me to get all the physiological and behavioral benefits of a perfectly managed sleep-wake practice?” This article will help you answer that question, and one component of that question is understanding how much time you need to spend in bed per night. First, we need to review important fundamentals of sleep and wake regulation, otherwise the guidance here won’t make much sense.

You’ve heard of the importance of personalizing your diet. But what about your sleep?

While we don’t know that a single purpose for sleep exists, we do know that many important things take place during that period of time between when you shut your eyes at night and when you open them again in the morning.

A major breakthrough in the field of sleep research took place in 1982 when Dr. Alexander Borbely, Emeritus Professor at the University of Zurich, published an article in the journal Human Neurobiology describing a concept of how sleep and wake are controlled over a 24-hour period. He dubbed his idea the 2-Process Model of Sleep Regulation, and building upon the evidence available at that time, he changed the way the world understood how sleep and wake are regulated.

In Dr. Borbely’s model, he described that the regulation of these states is based primarily upon the combination of two different processes occurring simultaneously. To understand how to get the sleep you need, let’s explore those two processes further.

Process 1 – Sleep Pressure

The first process of the professor’s 2-Process Model is sleep pressure. From the moment you wake up in the morning, a pressure for sleep mounts continuously until you sleep again. At night, the built-up sleep pressure helps you 1) fall asleep, and 2) stay asleep until the next morning. During sleep, this pressure decreases, and after a night of complete sleep, you start the next day with low sleep pressure. Later in the article, I’ll talk about the concept of “sleep debt,” which happens when you don’t wear down all your sleep pressure before starting the next day. 

If sleep pressure builds from morning to night, why don’t we become increasingly sleepy from the moment we wake up? That’s where the second process of the 2-Process Model comes into play.

Process 2 – Wake Drive

This second process is called “wake drive.” You can think of it as the result of multiple brain systems working together—a wake network—to produce an alerting signal that increases in intensity to counteract mounting sleep pressure. The result? While sleep pressure builds from morning to night, wake drive also builds from morning to night, and your alertness stays relatively even across the day (with some within-day oscillations). This process raises another question: If wake drive is high during the night, how do we fall asleep? To understand the answer, we need to discuss how sleep pressure and wake drive differ. 

Unlike sleep pressure, which is determined by time awake and time asleep, wake drive is controlled by a 24-hour rhythm, like an oscillating sine wave (i.e., a repeating wave-pattern with a high point and low point).

For instance, assume someone typically wakes up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed at 11 p.m. and that his or her wake rhythm is stable and fixed to this time frame. Under these conditions, their wake drive initiates at 7 a.m., builds all day to counteract mounting sleep pressure, reaches its peak at 10 p.m., and plummets at 11 p.m., descending to its lowest point across a 24-hour period. At 7 a.m. the next morning, it begins to build back up all over again.

This rhythm repeats day after day—you awake at the same time and feel sleepy at the same time, on a daily basis. Importantly, the timing of the rhythm can be shifted forward or backwards. In a second example, imagine the wake rhythm is shifted two hours forward: wake drive starts at 9 a.m., builds all day, reaches its peak at midnight, plummets at 1 a.m. to its lowest level, and then builds back up again around 9 a.m. the next morning. It is easy to see that the timing of this rhythm is crucial for daytime alertness and quality night-time sleep. Let’s explore what sets the timing of our daily wake rhythm.

Imagine you live in San Francisco and travel halfway around the globe to Rome, Italy. When you arrive, your internal rhythms are still synced to San Francisco. At the beginning of your trip, you’re awake at night when everyone in Italy is sleeping and sleepy during the day when everyone else is fully awake. But slowly, over the course of multiple days, your body starts to adjust to this new time zone. What signal is the body responding to in order to adjust the timing of its internal rhythms to be in sync with the environment? The primary signal that sets our 24-hour body rhythms, including the timing of our wake rhythm, is light entering the eye. 

There is an incredible amount of information regarding this topic, but I’ll get to the bottom line. To set the timing of your wake rhythm, your brain wants to coordinate the timing of your wake signal to daytime. It does this by measuring the intensity and hue of light entering the eye. Indoor light is far less intense than outdoor light and, more than ever in human history, we spend much of our day indoors.

So, bright daylight anchors your wake rhythm, and when you don’t get enough daylight, your wake rhythm shifts forward. This effect is compounded by getting too much artificial light at night.

Essentially, by having light enter the eye at night when the brain should be getting exposure to darkness, we are again telling the brain that it should shift the timing of the wake rhythm forward. So, living in the modern world causes a double-whammy—too little light during the day and too much light at night—shifting our wake rhythm forward.

What is one implication of having your wake rhythm shifted forward? Let’s say you need to get up at 7 a.m. and want to go to bed by 11 p.m. Remember, you start to build sleep pressure as soon as you wake up. Not a problem if your wake rhythm starts at 7 a.m. too. Everything works really, really well when these systems are coordinated. But, when your wake rhythm is shifted forward, say, to 9 a.m., now you have a mismatch between sleep pressure and wake drive. There is a gap between the intensity of these two counteracting forces, and that gap is maintained all day. 

What do you experience when this happens? Day-long sleepiness and impaired alertness (and a host of other cognitive issues). But it doesn’t end there. Let’s look at what happens to sleep at night. In this scenario, you want to go to sleep at 11 p.m., and you’ve been sleepy all day, but since your wake rhythm is shifted forward, it’s at its most powerful at the time you want to go to bed. This can cause insomnia or it can make the first phase of sleep shallow. Incidentally, the first phase of sleep should be the deepest, and this depth of sleep corresponds with the fastest reduction of sleep pressure. If you don’t wear down sleep pressure efficiently, you have to sleep longer to do so. But if you don’t sleep longer, instead waking by an alarm as most people do, you wake the next day with “sleep debt,” which, as I described earlier, means you carry some of yesterday’s unresolved sleep pressure with you into tomorrow. So, a mistimed wake rhythm can either shorten your sleep by making it harder to go to bed at night or disrupt the depth of your sleep, either of which will cause sleep debt. What this means is that seven hours of sleep will feel more like six the next day. Conversely, you could get nine hours of sleep (which might be a lot for you) and still not feel well rested. 

You can see why it’s difficult to directly answer the question, “How much sleep do I need?”

Sleep quality is not entirely dependent upon sleep duration. Sleep quality could be disrupted by a wake rhythm that is overly active in the first part of the night, making it hard to nod off, or making the first sleep phase, the deepest sleep phase, shallower.

The big lesson you should learn here is to anchor your wake rhythm by maintaining smart light habits throughout the day, evening, and night. To do this, get at least 30 minutes of outdoor light exposure during the day. In the evening, dim all lights and reduce blue or full-spectrum light in your environment. At night, while you sleep, maintain a very dark room.

Determining Your Ideal Sleep Duration

Given that the timing of your wake rhythm can shift, and that this shift can then influence sleep duration ability and needs, sleep duration is an important part of the puzzle.

Let’s explore the topic, assuming your wake rhythm is well-timed and stable. Scientists have taken many approaches to try to answer the question, “How much sleep does one need?”

A series of early studies put subjects in a stimulation-free environment for 14 to 24 hours per day and then monitored daily sleep quantity. Each day for the first two days, subjects slept up to 12 to 20 hours! Then, on subsequent days, daily sleep times reduced until each subject arrived at a consistent daily sleep amount. Most people settled at an average of eight hours per night, although some settled closer to nine and others closer to seven. Once each subject settled at his or her stable daily average, after they had the chance to wear down additional sleep pressure, this average likely approximated their actual daily sleep requirement.

One way to interpret these findings is to assume that subjects entered these studies with extra sleep debt that built over time and could be attributed to less-than-optimal nightly sleep before they entered the study. When given way-more-than-normal time for sleep in the study, this built-up pressure caused long sleep periods in the first few days, and decreased over time to settle at a unique average for each person. Interestingly, although the volunteers reported feeling perfectly normal when they entered the study, after they reduced this extra sleep pressure, they had notable improvements in mood and energy levels.

More recently, sleep researchers Siobhan Banks, David Dinges, and others have been exploring this topic further. In some of their studies, they restrict sleep time during the week to four or five hours per night, then give subjects recovery sleep for several days in a row. Recovery sleep means that the subjects were allowed to sleep as long as they could, only waking up on their own volition and not by external means. What they found is quite telling. Not only does performance on mental tasks increasingly degrade each day during night after night of insufficient sleep, but when finally given a chance to sleep longer, they do—much longer, in fact. It’s common for these subjects to sleep 125 percent of normal, going from eight hours a night at baseline to ten hours a night during recovery nights. But, their sleep debt wasn’t fully worn down by one long slumber. Subjects had increased sleep duration beyond their baseline needs lasting for about four nights. And this occurred after only five nights of sleep deprivation. In real life situations, people will restrict sleep beyond five days fairly regularly. In fact, one-third of the U.S. population reports sleep less than six hours a night on average. I won’t go into the all the associations that have been found between chronic sleep restriction and disease, but my global impression is that the effects of chronic, persistent sleep loss promote a whole-system pathological response in humans. In other words, lots can go wrong and does. 

What If I Can’t Sleep past 7 A.M.?

If you can’t sleep past the time you usually wake up in the morning, does this mean you’re getting all the sleep you need? Well, actually, no. Let’s say you have a fairly strong wake rhythm that starts at 7 a.m. each day. Excellent! But, even if you haven’t worn down all your sleep pressure from the night before, you still may wake up at your usual time. You just might be sleepier than you need to be under this condition. So, one way to evaluate sleep need is to look at how long you can sleep. However, given this potentiality, you might just be experiencing sub-functional mental capacity during the day. In this scenario, try an experiment. Attempt to get complete nightly sleep for three weeks in a row, plus maintaining smart light habits day by day, and then see how you feel. To start, consider how much time you typically spend in bed per night. Tracking sleep manually or with the sleep tracker on Dan’s Plan is very useful for this. One objective measurement to indirectly assess sleep quality is to evaluate reaction time during the day, which is a measure of vigilance. For the first three days of the experiment, at the same time each morning, do 20 tries of a reaction time test at HumanBenchmark.com. Write down your average reaction time across each day, then average those 3 days into one score and file it as “baseline” in a place where you can reference it later. 

Example: 

  • Day 1: 269 milliseconds (ms)
  • Day 2: 303 ms
  • Day 3: 277 ms

Baseline Reaction Time Score (3-Day average): 283 ms

Now that you have an idea of your average time in bed each night, add 30 to 60 minutes to that  time by going to bed earlier. Try not to wake by an alarm during this experiment. Do not spend too much effort in evaluating how you feel during this three-week period. Instead, evaluate how you feel after three weeks have passed. The goal of the Dan’s Plan Restorative Sleeper concept is to wake refreshed and feel alert all day. How do you feel? Noticeably different and better? Also, do another three days of morning reaction time tests at humanBenchmark.com and see if your scores differ from your baseline. If you do see improvements, you’ve identified that you benefit by getting more sleep than your previous “normal.”

Many people are surprised by how good they feel when they undergo this experiment, and that experiential evidence can motivate you to maintain this propitious nightly bed duration over the long term.

If you didn’t sleep any longer and don’t feel much different, then you may be getting all the sleep you need on a regular basis. Either way, you’ve added knowledge to your own sleep practice and can then make corresponding adjustments if need be.

I track my sleep nightly to help nudge me to do the behaviors necessary to get the sleep I need. Here is a screenshot of my last year of sleep data, indicating that I put my money where my mouth is. 

sleep tracker

Complete Sleep

This is a term I created to describe your ideal sleep duration. When trying to determine how much sleep you need, you also must understand that your own sleep needs can change from day to day, depending on factors like fighting an infection, recovering from a higher-than-normal level of physical activity or stress, and more. So, even if you were to determine a number you felt was representative of your ideal, the reality is that your sleep need can change night to night. My recommendation is the same: allow for more time in bed than sleep you need. If you need eight hours of time in bed, plan to spend 8.5 hours in bed so you can wake under your own volition and not by an alarm clock. If your body needs a bit more sleep that night, you’ll have planned for this to happen. Give your body the chance to get all the sleep that it wants to get, and you will be doing yourself a favor. Wake up on your own volition and not by external means. It’s fine to set an alarm as a stopgap but you should aim, on average, to wake naturally.

Sleep science is complex, but sleep guidance doesn’t have to be. Good sleep is extraordinarily important for your health and daily performance.

My view is that the reality of the modern world requires you to counteract its forces that impair health, and this is very true for sleep. Try the recommendations covered here and leave a comment reporting your findings after you’ve had the chance to let your experiment run for a few weeks.

End Note

This article does not address the all contingencies—especially sleep disorders and other conditions that disrupt sleep—that can alter what I discussed above. Additionally, the actual science is far more complex than what I presented here, but the message this article conveys, and the guidance it confers, is useful to help you view sleep in a healthy way, and ultimately, to maintain a healthy sleep practice throughout life. 

Daniel PardiAbout Dan: Dan is an entrepreneur and researcher whose life’s work is centered on how to facilitate healthy behaviors in others. He is the CEO of humanOS.me and dansplan.com, health technology companies that utilize the Loop Model to Sustain Health Behaviors—which he developed—to help people live a healthy lifestyle in a modern world (See Stanford MedX presentation on the Loop Model.) He does research with the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford and the Departments of Neurology and Endocrinology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. His current research looks at how sleep influences decision-making (current list of publications). Dan also works with Naval Special Warfare to help the most elite fighters in the world maintain vigilant performance in both combat and non-combat conditions. Follow him @dansplanhealth.

109 Comments

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  1. Any thoughts on those with circadian rhythm disorders? I’ve had symptoms of delayed sleep phases syndrome virtually my entire life. The work I love does not allow changing my work hours or working later shifts. I’ve tried every tip out there in efforts to let my body sleep before 3-4 AM without success.

    Thanks

  2. My mom has been battling what is known in the diabetes world as the “dawn phenomenon” – high morning blood sugar that is not a response to low blood sugar during the night. I am wondering if anyone knows anything about whether or not this is related to the wake drive presented in this article. I would think it is somehow related, as these processes are occuring at the same time of day, but maybe not. Just looking for answers to help my mom lower her morning blood glucose readings. Any input would be appreciated!!

  3. Here is another avenue to investigate for your sleep problem

    Impaired Methylation Cycle MTHFR

    I have had many types of sleep problems in my life. The most recent involved sleeping restfully but had been waking up tired this past year. I minimized it by using P5P which is the coenzyme form of B6. I need to take extra amount.

    I never had any test for it but I know from various things that I don’t process sulfurs well. For instance I used 200 mg of riboflavin 2X day to prevent migraines. I know molybdenum helps me. I get migraines when using too much MSM. There are other things.

    Methylation treatment includes using the Complete Coenzyme B vitamins (take in empty stomach), Molybdenum, TMG etc. You may need more potassium also when taking this stuff.

    You can get genetic data online (cost $100) and then there are people who will process that for free ($10 donation) as it relates to methylation. Non medical genetic testing companies have recently been barred by FDA from giving health reports. Understand that the methylation process is complex so many things can go wrong. It requires trial and error to correct it.

  4. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this, it was really great! I had a quick followup question I was hoping you could shed some light on. Would you say that exercise is the second most (next to sleep hygiene) important modifiable factor in obtaining both a higher quality and quantity of sleep? And if so, would you suggest prioritizing moderate/high intensity exercise or a daily 10000 step count (if forced to choose one at the exclusion of the other). Thanks again for your time, Dan!

  5. Knowing that alcohol affects sleep (for example, recovering alcoholics are known to have long-term sleep disturbances long after they quit), I recently took a break from drinking for three weeks to see if it would help my insomnia. (I am a moderate drinker, about 1.5 drinks per day.) During that time, my sleep was somewhat improved. What really surprised me is that my sleep kept improving after I resumed my typical drinking, even 6 weeks later. While I still would like to sleep more, I am now sleeping on average 6 hrs per night instead of 5. I wonder if the break from drinking rebooted my circadian rhythm or something…. Anyway, for any insomniacs who drink, I humbly suggest this experiment.

  6. During secondary school and college it used to be the standard 8-9 hours, but lately with that amount I’ll find myself waking up tired. So more often than not, I’ll need around at least 11 hours for me to wake up, without actually having that urge to go right back to sleep. I started getting active a few years ago, exercising and joining triathlons and it had a great impact on my sleep. I no longer wake up sluggish or tired even if I only had 4 hours of sleep. I hope that helps :). If anyone is looking for triathlon training tips – or running and biking and swimming tips – you can check out my website http://www.trainingfortriathlonswithmike.com/

    • Hi Mike,
      I speak of physical activity as being the opposite side of the coin to sleep. Daytime physical activity can deepen sleep at night, and sound sleep can increase the likelihood of engaging in physical activity during the day.

      Daytime physical activity done outdoors is even a better. Sufficient bright light exposure, the importance of which I address in the article, can be more easily attained when you perform your physical activity outside vs indoors.

  7. what do you recommend for waking during the night after dream cycle? I get 15000 steps and light in the morning. Is there a certain time of day that is better to exercise for middle of the night waking? Thanks!!

    • A long shot you read this this late, Lisa L.

      Go read my piece about banana smoothie above, that might be more important than changing the time of your exercise.

      I exercise at lunch (very vigorous) or sometimes from 5 to 6:30 pm (lighter). Try to finish eating and drinking 2 1/2 hours before bed.

      Hope this helps, good luck 🙂

  8. Hi Daniel!

    Thank you for an interesting article. I’m confused with the sleep experiment. I’m right now going through a depression, at least that’s what I think it is, and I’ve almost all my life had some issues with sleep – anxious/shallow sleep, long sleep/not feeling refreshed, tired during the day kind of experience.

    I’m now reported sick and have time to correct some lifestyle issues, and I want to adress my sleep as I believe it’s central to my well being – even though I’m certain that deeper emotional trauma is at the root of the problem.

    The case is that when I’m allowed to stay in the bed as much as I want, I usually stay there for 10-12 hours and don’t feel really rested or vital anyways. This is probably due to the depression, and I don’t really know how to adress the sleep/resting in my state. Should I force myself up after 8-10 hours with an alarm to avoid oversleeping/overresting or should I just stay in bed as much as I feel like?

    Thanks!

    David

  9. Very interesting, yes I want to be part of Your “Sleep better group”,since my sleeping habits deteriorated with the age. Jana

  10. Dear Dan: I’ve had bad insomnia for 2 years. I am getting slowly better, I think (5.5 hours sleep avg. instead of 4.5 or 5) but I still seek further improvement. Last year, I added 7am-8am Philips goLite (highest level) and the night blue-blockers to my repertoire, with negligible improvement. Getting a lot of daily real sunlight is an attractive idea but not always practical due to cubicle life: is it advisable to use the goLite AGAIN at mid-day (or periodically thru the naturally-daylight part of the day) to achieve this same effect? Thank you!

  11. Really helpful article. By applying the principles last night of very low light with mostly candles and no screens I slept quite well and woke up feeling better than usual. My question concerns my very early work week schedule. I get up at 4:30 four days a week, going to bed around 8, 7:30 if I’m particularly tired which happens a lot. I’m wondering whether it would be a good idea to keep my weekend schedule the same or approximately the same? Does our energy depend on that kind of regularity to maintain its health?

    • Hi Susan,

      Glad you found the article helpful. Yes, I would recommend keeping your weekend schedule as close to your week schedule as possible. The same amount of sleep is more effective when the sleep phase doesn’t shift every couple of days. Give that a try, too, I think you’ll notice a difference.

  12. Great article, but I am wondering: Is there no effect of seasonality on the amount of sleep one needs? Daniel makes no mention of this in his article. I have been tracking my daily sleep amount for the past few years and have found that my average daily sleep duration differs by nearly an hour between January and July (8:03 and 7:10 respectively). It seems to gradually grow as the days get shorter and decreases as days get longer throughout the year. I assumed this was tied to the amount of sunlight each day. However, looking at Daniel’s monthly average sleep duration graph, it is fairly flat–in fact, February and March are shorter than June and July. Unless he lives close to the equator, his sleep requirement seems unaffected by the length of day.

    • Hi RBL,

      I believe there are, or could be, seasonal affects on our physiology but I don’t know what they are and it’s a hard subject to research. Pre-artificial light, it’s probable that alternative sleep patterns occurred during seasons with shorter photo periods. For example, Roger Ekirch, a historian from Virginia Tech, noticed that historical texts would reference first and second sleep. Upon further investigation, be believed he identified that during some seasons, it was normal to go to bed early, have a period of wakefulness in the middle of the night, and then go back to sleep before waking up the next day. It is easier to sleep more when it’s dark but I’m not confident that our sleep-time needs change between seasons but that our sleep patterns might have.

  13. Hi again everyone. Wow – we’re a motly crew of sleep-deprived folk, eh?! I guess it’s more common today than one would think! Enjoying the resource sharing that’s happening. Here are a few more in response to some of the above posts:
    – for blocking blue-light, try “Uvex S1933X” glasses (Amazon has them for under $10). Also, check out Chris’s blog “How artificial light is wrecking your sleep” (here: http://chriskresser.com/how-artificial-light-is-wrecking-your-sleep-and-what-to-do-about-it)
    – one supplement I’ve found extremly helpful is “Kavinace” (not at all related to Kava). Expensive, but it can help esp. with sleep maintenance insomnia. Take up to 6 max at night.
    – last, “Melatonin ND” by Premier Research Labs is a natural, (i.e., non-sythnetic) sublingual melatonin that I had some success with for a while.
    – for trauma-related difficulties with sleep there is a form of trauma healing called “Somatic Experiencing” created by former NASA trauma specialist Peter Levine. The website traumahealing.com has a practitioner registry. As with any form of therapy, skill levels vary widely, so be sure to trust your intuition and get some references when searching for a practitioner.
    Hope this is of some use!
    – Oren

  14. Hi Dan!
    Thanks for an enlightening article. I will definately do the experiment with staying in bed for longer. But I doubt if it will work. For 12 years now (since my daughter was born) I have not been able to stay asleep more than 4 hours at night. It doesn’t matter how early I go to bed. I always fall asleep immediately and I’m usually fine most of the day except for around 4 or 5 pm, where I take a nap for max 15 minutes. My daughter was born much too early, and we were hospitalized for months under extremely stressful circumstances. She practically lived on my body untill she was 1,5 years old 24/7 and I might have slept 5-10 minutes here and there during breastfeeding, but that was all the sleep I got for several years – no doubt taxing my adreanals a lot. The first 1,5 months were hellish, but then I suddenly felt great – even felt much more energetic than those around me. Since then, I haven’t been able to sleep normally – though living in Scandinavia, where we have many dark hours in the winter time. A friend resently sent me an article about an experimantal forced sleeping regime called the Überman schedule – or polyphasic sleep pattern. It sounds like what I did – unintentionally, but now I would really like to go back to a normal sleep pattern 🙂

  15. Hi Dan and Chris–
    Interesting… thank you!
    Glad you are talking about what is going on 1/3 of our lives.
    Having had undiagnosed sleep apnea before I was treated with a BiPAP 4 years ago– I know more than I ever wanted to know about sleep and lack thereof. I am just about to be sleep tested on a Trilogy non invasive ventilator– hoping we will get this nailed down soon.
    I have some Paleo appropriate comments I would like to pass on in private to you Dan and Chris– worthy of future blogs and dissemination of information to your audience. We are just in our infancy in understanding how sleep impacts our health!
    Please read my article published in WAPF’s Wise Traditions in 2009: “100 years before Weston Price– the Observations of George Catlin”
    Thanks for your great work…

  16. For the last 12 years,since menopause, I have had a sleep problem. Go to sleep easily, awaken every 90 to 120 minutes until 3-4 AM. I began taking benedryl so I could return to sleep after 3 AM and have now switched to melatonin. But I still awake every 90 to 120 minutes. Generally go to bed 10 PM and get up at 6-7 AM. Can you offer any reasons why this happens?

    • It’s normal to wake up many times a night (ie., 15). We have microarousals whenever we role over, adjust positions, etc. But, when we’re young, we remember very few, if any, of those microarousals. As we age, we’re conscientious of more of them and if feel as though our sleep is more disrupted. Getting enough daily physical activity can also make sleep more sound. Aiming for 10K steps a day is an excellent goal.

      • I have also spent 12 years trying to find something that would make me go back to sleep after 3 am without doing tranquilizers. I slept 8 hours a night for my first 50 years of life. I didn’t do drugs/phamaceuticals and I rarely went to doctors. I go into menopause in 2002 and everything changes. I have spent thousands of dollars and years of reading research. Also went to a sleep specialist who really didn’t believe I actually slept 8 hours a night before menopause. Wanted me to stop catastrophizing. I wrote a stress management program for a treatment center back in the 80’s because I did all the stress management techniques including CBT. I was an expert at teaching people how to relax and get sleep. People make tons of suggestions and I will of course try it. I have tried 5 different brands of melatonin. Sublingual and long acting. I have taken up to 30 mg a night. Doesn’t even make me groggy. The only reason why I am able to fall asleep around 10:30 pm every night is because I take 200 mg of compounding progesterone before bed. Because I use to work in the medical profession in many capacities, I have been tested several times for a physiological disorder and I test out as just an average person. The only thing that works is to take .25 mg ( a quarter of one milligram) of Alprazolam if I’m not back to sleep in 30 minutes ( The sleep specialist who is an MD agreed with this and told me not to go over 30 minutes trying to get back to sleep on my own). Now I have had a suggestion that I should go ahead and get up and start my day whenever I wake up. Did that. If I get less than 8 hours a night, I feel like I have the flu without the fever. I have a job that I need to pay attention to what my client is doing and what needs to be done. Because of my training and education and all of the psychologists and medical docs I have worked with over the years, research medicine is still at least 50 years away of being able to truly discover what goes on in the brain of someone who develops insomnia. I do also believe that traumatic experiences of all types can set the tone for PTSD which will set the stage for chronic insomnia.