Posted: Feb 25, 2013 4:12 PM
 
We all complain about how tired we are -- especially around 3 p.m. each day. Is there really a magic number of hours of sleep we need each day? How can you tell if you need more sleep? We got the lowdown from experts on how much you truly need -- and how to get the best sleep you can.

Whether you toss and turn all night or simply stay up too late, not getting a good night's sleep has a negative impact on your entire day. It's difficult to know how much sleep we really need because everyone's needs are different.

How much, really?

According to the Mayo Clinic, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night -- but there are circumstances that change the actual amount you need.

AGe^

The amount of sleep you need doesn't change as you age, but older people wake more frequently during the night.

Pregnancy^ If you've ever been pregnant you know -- there's no tired like pregnant tired.

Quality Matters^

Even if you are in bed for 8 hours, if you wake frequently or your sleep is interrupted you aren't getting good sleep.

Women vs. men

Moms tend to have a "hyper-vigilance" about the well-being of our children -- and it can be intensified at night.

Do women need more sleep than men? "One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself," says Dr. Jim Horne, author and sleep researcher. "'Women tend to multi-task -- they do lots at once and are flexible -- and so they use more of their actual brain than men do," says Horne. "Because of that, their sleep need is greater." Even so, the amount needed has been determined to be only an extra 20 minutes.

Eileen Henry, RIE Associate and developer of Compassionate Sleep Solutions says, "Moms tend to have a "hyper-vigilance" about the well-being of our children -- and it can be intensified at night. I find that mindful practices of meditation, relaxation exercises and specific yoga sequences can be incredibly beneficial to mothers of young children in protecting their own much needed rest."

Get your best sleep

To make sure you are getting the best sleep you can, Henry recommends establishing a bedtime routine and sleeping on a consistent schedule -- yes, even on the weekend. Limit screen time with your smart phone, tablet or computer before turning in. Limit distractions that may affect your sleep, like a bright alarm clock display or a dripping faucet.

Everyone is different when it comes to sleep. Experiment with what works best for you, and start working towards getting the sleep you need.

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Maria Mora February 13, 2013
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I am definitely not getting enough sleep. It's one of my goals this year to get better about it.