Do You Need More Sleep?

What the experts say

Do you need more sleep?  If you feel like you need a lot more sleep than your peers, you may find the results of a new study comforting. The study suggests that the bodies internal clock programs some people to sleep longer than others.

This internal clock, or circadian rhythm, controls when we sleep and wake and plays a role in other biological processes as well, such as temperature regulation and hormone production.

needs more sleep
Needs More Sleep

The internal clock creates a signal that divides the circadian cycle into two distinct periods--a biological day and a biological night.  During the biological night, we experience changes in hormone levels, body temperature and the propensity to sleep.  Somehow the clock programs an internal night during which it favors rest and sleep.

How much sleep is right for you?

Although most adults average 7.5 hours of sleep a night, some people get by on less sleep while others seem to need more z`s.  Researchers suspect that there is a physiological explanation for sleep differences, but exactly what this might be has been uncertain.

Based on several measures, including hormone levels, body temperature and sleepiness, long sleepers had a longer biological night than short sleepers.  This means that there are differences in internal circadian signals.  These differences could help account for variations in the amount people sleep.

The fact that the length of the biological night seems to vary from person to person may also help explain why it is difficult to change sleep habits willfully.  What causes the differences remains unknown, however, genetics and behavior are two possible explanations.

The results of the study support the idea that sleep needs vary from person to person.  Noting that we seem to value our alarm clocks more than our internal clocks, our society needs to find a way to accommodate each persons individual sleep requirements.  So in answering the question, do you need more sleep, try listening to what your body is telling you.

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