If you could wave a magic wand to change your sleeping habits what would you do? Get to bed earlier and feel less tired in the day? Or find a way to get less sleep and still be less tired?
Just like fad diets there are fashions in sleeping that come and go. In this global, 24/7 life our rest and relaxation time is viewed by some as a waste. The ultra-productive will point to all the things we could be doing if we just got up at 4 or 5 in the morning. Going for a jog, writing a novel, all these possibilities.
For most people getting up early is generally accompanied by going to bed early too. They are changing the place of the hours spent awake but not the number. There is a hardcore though who insist that getting by on less sleep is not just possible, but ideal.
Polyphasic sleep is an idea popular at the moment, which uses naps strategically to boost energy levels so that people can get by on as little as two hours a night. Many of those famous for getting by on little sleep are also famous for their napping.
But with sleep disorders on the rise and chronic tiredness an increasing problem, most people are looking to get more sleep. Probably adding a little power nap to getting to bed before midnight.
And no wonder – tiredness leads to mood swings, irritability, loss of concentration, being more accident prone and other unpleasant side effects. Medically, longer term sleep deprivation can cause obesity, diabetes, depression, stress and heart disease.
Our bodies need sleep in order to relax, heal and grow. Our minds need sleep in order to process and feel refreshed. Though there is a natural variety in the exact amount we all need, and where those hours fall sleep is still essential.