How Much Sleep Do You REALLY Need?

How Many ZZZZZs Do You Need To Be Healthy?

Ahhhh, nothing better than a good night of sleep. I am one of those people who knows I need a least 8 hours. I’ve been that way since I was a child. My parents have always said I never needed a bedtime because I would just go to bed when I was tired.

But do you really need 8 hours like they say? I went out and did some research to find out….

Here’s what I found out: [1]

Sleep is an important function for many reasons. When you sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that help:

  • decrease risk for health conditions
  • manage your hunger levels
  • maintain your immune system
  • retain memory

Researchers in the United Kingdom and Italy analyzed data from 16 separate studies conducted over 25 years, covering more than 1.3 million people and more than 100,000 deaths. They published their findings in the journal Sleep. Those who generally slept for less than six hours a night were 12 percent more likely to experience a premature death. People who slept more than eight to nine hours per night had an even higher risk, at 30 percent.

Researchers also found that people who reduced their sleep time from seven hours to five hours or less had 1.7 times the risk of death from all causes.

People who are sleep-deprived:

  • have a harder time receiving information due to the brain’s overworked neurons
  • may interpret events differently
  • tend to have impaired judgment
  • lose their ability to access previous information

It’s important to get seven to eight hours of sleep so that you can experience all the sleep stages. No one stage is responsible for memory and learning. Two stages (rapid eye movement and slow wave sleep) contribute to:

  • creative thinking
  • procedural memory
  • long-term memories
  • memory processing

I know it’s hard to make sleep one of your top priorities. We all have such busy lives and we let our phones and TV’s keep us up, which then makes it tougher for us to fall asleep.

We need to keep sleep our top priority [2]:

“Sleep helps heal and repair our heart and blood vessels, and thus sleep deficiency can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to obesity. During our sleep, the body helps maintain and balance our hormones. If we don’t get enough sleep hormones like ghrelin (signals hunger) and leptin (signals satiety) become imbalanced. Ghrelin increases and leptin decreases. In addition, sleep also affects how our bodies react to insulin, the hormone that controls our blood glucose (sugar). Lack of sleep is linked to high blood sugar. Our sensitivity to insulin greatly decreases with inadequate sleep. In addition, sleep aids healthy growth and development. Human growth hormone is excreted during sleep, and research suggests that it’s during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep that the body is able to: restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenish immune cells, and circulate human growth hormone for strong muscles and bones.”


  1. Download filters for your phone and/or laptop (check out lux) to reduce blue light and power electronics down 1 hour before bed
  2. Try a meditation app (check out Calm, Headspace, or the Mindfulness App)
  3. Use Low Blue Lights glasses, lighting, and filters in your home
  4. Stick to a sleep schedule – try to sleep and wake at consistent times
  5. Reduce or eliminate caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before sleep
  6. Include physical activity in your daily routine (limit within 2 hours of bedtime)
  7. Increase bright light exposure during the day – natural sunlight during the day helps keep our circadian rhythm healthy
  8. Decrease the temperature of your bedroom slightly
  9. Relax and clear your mind in the evening – try reading, journaling, stretching, or prayer

Personally, I’ve started to listen to an audiobook or podcast. Something easy and relaxing will whisk me off to sleep quickly. I’m usually asleep within 15 minutes of when I lay my head down on my pillow.

Nancy Boardman
October 4, 2017

Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar, Dr. David Hardy, Dr. Joseph Little, Chiropractic Physicians

To schedule an appointment, click here.



Can You Really Sleep Like a Baby?

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8 Ways to Make Every Horizontal Hour Count!

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping.  In other words, if you live for ninety years, you will sleep for 30 years of your life!  Given this, figuring out how to get the most from your sleep is pretty important!
There is a lot of controversy over how much sleep we need.   If you were to research this question, you would probably conclude that the right amount of sleep depends on the person. Some people need eight to nine hours, while others do just fine on five to six hours. Personally, five to six hours of sleep is perfect for me!  I feel tired the next day if I sleep more than that. My wife, however, needs more sleep than I do.  She is also one of those people who is asleep 5 minutes after her head hits the pillow.  I admit; I’m jealous.  For me, it takes a little longer.  What are the benefits of a restful sleep and how do we sleep better?
The Benefits of A Good Quality Sleep:
  • Sleep helps to repairs one’s body. When you go to sleep you should reach stage 4 of sleep or “REM sleep.” This stands for Rapid Eye Movement. It is in this phase of sleep that your muscles totally relax. “Your body produces extra protein molecules while you’re sleeping that help strengthen your ability to fight infection and stay healthy.” (1)
  • Sleep helps to keep your heart healthy by reducing stress and inflammation.
  • Sleep helps to improve memory. When people wake up not rested in the morning, some may experience a type of “brain fog.”  [Click to Tweet] This affects memory. Look at this as a type of inflammation in the brain.
  • Sleep helps to control body weight. “Sleep helps regulate the hormones that affect and control your appetite. Studies have shown that when your body is deprived of sleep, the normal hormone balances are interrupted and your appetite increases.” (1)
  • Good quality sleep decreases your chance of diabetes.
  • Good quality sleep decreases mood disorders. Lack of sleep can lead to depression and or anxiety.

8 Ways to Fall Asleep Quicker and Make Every Minute Count!

1.  Make sure you have a mattress that’s right for you. There is no set rule on whether firm or soft is better.  You really need to try a mattress out.  Just laying on it in the store for a minute or two really does not give you the information you need.  To solve this problem, make sure the store has a 30-day return policy. After sleeping on whatever mattress you pick, you will know if it is “right” for you and if it’s not – you can return it!  If the store does not have a return policy, find another store. Don’t sway on this! A quality mattress is an investment into your health and well-being.
2.  Have a pillow that is good for you.   Sleeping with two or three pillows under your head is wrong. You want a comfortable pillow that keeps your neck in the anatomically-correct c-shape.  [Click to Tweet]  Too many pillows under your head can keep your neck in an odd shape and can affect how you breathe when you sleep.
3.  Keep the temperature in your room between 65 to 60 degrees. A cooler room will help you sleep better and deeper.
 4.  Keep the room darker. A glowing cell phone, clock radio, or TV will affect the quality of your sleep.
5.  Establish and follow a normal sleep routine. This means going to bed around the same time each night and waking up around the same time each morning.
 6.  Don’t stare at a clock in your room. Too many people get frustrated watching a clock.  “Staring at a clock in your bedroom, either when you are trying to fall asleep or when you wake in the middle of the night, can actually increase stress, making it harder to fall asleep.” (2)
 7.  Run a fan in your room. White noise is soothing, helping one to get to sleep and stay sleep throughout the night. My wife and I have a fan running constantly. We even take a small fan with us when we are staying at a hotel.
 8.  Try this breathing technique:  breathe in through your nose to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 7 and breathe out through your mouth to the count of 8.  Doing this 4 o 5 times helps many people fall asleep faster. [Click to Tweet]
Don’t freak out on some nights you can’t get to sleep. Everyone has those evenings that they can’t sleep.  While having these nights too often is not good for your health, everyone has them now and then.  Instead of getting frustrated about not being able to sleep, get out of bed and do something else.
If you have constant trouble getting to sleep, or if you wake up and can’t get back to sleep, consult a doctor. Proper testing can determine the reason for this.  Remember though that sleep aids are not the answer.  Find a doctor that will help you solve the problem instead of simply inducing sleep chemically.  Look for a future post about the connection between drugs, sleeping aids and Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep?  Do you have any tips you would like to share?
Sleep well my friends,
Dr. David Starkey D.C.
June 17, 2015
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar, Dr. David Starkey and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians
To Schedule a Complimentary Consultation, Click Here.