Sleep to feel good and look good.

What we now know is that poor or inadequate sleep actively contributes to weight gain and poor mood state, as well as ill-health. It is important therefore that each of us has a very clear idea of what is their own individual optimal sleep.

To find out how much sleep you need, follow these steps:

  • Over the next week record the time you go to sleep and the time you wake up.
  • If you are awake for any long periods during the night, record that time as well (although don't worry about recording brief periods of wakefulness).
  • At the end of the week examine the number of hours slept each night.
  • Look to see if there is a consistency in the number of hours slept each day.
  • Observe whether you have a regular going-to-sleep and getting-up time. Is there a difference how long you sleep on week-days compared to week-ends?

If, in reviewing the hours slept there is one or more hours' difference in the amount of sleep on weeknights compared to the weekend, then you may not be getting the sleep you need.

On the other hand, it may be that there is a pattern of regularity – you regularly only get 6.5–7 hours sleep. For most of us this is not sufficient, and hopefully as a result of this exercise you now realise that you are probably not getting sufficient sleep. Some signs that could help you decide whether you may be sleep deprived are relying on the alarm clock to wake you in the morning, overuse of caffeine as a pick-me-up or feeling very sleepy in the afternoon or early evening.