“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” We’ve all heard someone jokingly say this before. But the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation are no laughing matter. Getting consistently poor sleep has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.
Given the role sleep plays in our overall health and well-being, it makes sense why so many people are choosing to invest in weighted blankets, sunrise alarm clocks, sleep trackers and other products aimed at helping poor sleepers get a better night’s rest. But even with the help of sleep aids and fancy sleep trackers, it can be tricky to tell when you’re getting enough shut-eye.
So, how can you tell when you’re hitting the sleep sweet spot?
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
Let’s start with how much sleep you need in the first place. Most sleep experts agree that the average healthy adult needs at least seven hours of sleep per night to feel well-rested and functional the next day. However, our sleep requirements change as we age. Babies, children and teenagers require more sleep to fuel their growing bodies, while older adults and seniors need less.
Additionally, our sleep requirements can change on an individual level. For example, if you’re sick, pregnant or suffer from seasonal allergies, you will need more sleep because your body is working overtime.
6 Signs You’re Truly Well-Rested
You’re pretty sure you’ve been getting good sleep these past few weeks — but how can you really be sure?
Unfortunately, the only real way of knowing how well you’re sleeping is to ask for a polysomnography, also called a sleep study. During the sleep study, doctors will record your brain waves, heart rate, breathing and other body functions during sleep to gauge how well you’re sleeping and rule out potential sleep disorders.
Not interested in a sleep study? Don’t worry — there are a few ways to assess your sleep quality and quantity without the help of a pro.
Here are six signs that indicate you’ve been getting good sleep.
1. You Feel Happy, Calm and Optimistic
There’s a reason why we often joke that someone in a bad mood “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” Studies show that poor sleepers have an increase in negative moods, such as anger, frustration and sadness. Insufficient sleep may also lessen your ability to cope with everyday stressors, making the smallest tasks feel completely overwhelming. But the opposite is true when you get a great night’s sleep — your mood stabilizes, you handle stress better and your outlook on life is generally more positive.
2. You Don’t Need Caffeine to Get You Through the Day
Caffeine is the most popular psychoactive substance in the world, with at least 80 percent of adults in Western society regularly consuming the natural stimulant through tea, coffee and energy drinks. Poor sleepers may experience low energy levels, spurring them to drink caffeine to help get them through the midday slump.
If you don’t feel the need to reach for a cup of Joe, that’s a good sign that you’re getting enough sleep — and enough deep sleep in particular. That’s because the deep sleep stage of sleep is thought to play one of the biggest roles in energy, according to Harvard Health. If your deep sleep is restricted, you’re more likely to feel tired and sluggish during the day.
3. You Wake Up Naturally
Do you wake up to the sound of a beeping alarm, or do you tend to wake up naturally with the morning sun? If the answer is the latter, then you’re probably getting consistently good sleep. As it turns out, alarm clocks can be detrimental to our health, with some experts pointing to their potential to disrupt our biological clocks (aka, circadian rhythms).
One of the main issues with using an alarm clock is that it can cut short your overall sleep time. People often set their alarm clocks for an early wake-up time while forgetting to shift their bedtime earlier. This may inadvertently shave off an hour or two of sleep every night, which can add up quickly.
If you use an alarm, be sure to go to bed at a decent hour. Try winding down at night by listening to a meditation podcast and wearing a weighted sleep mask. You could also read or do a light stretching routine.
4. Your Skin Has Never Looked Better
Is your skin glowing and pimple-free for once? Sure, it could be the result of a healthy diet and better skincare products. But if you’re also getting consistently good sleep, you might be able to chalk it up to a regular sleep schedule.
Sleep affects everything, and your skin is no exception. When you go to sleep, your skin’s blood flow increases all over the body, nourishing skin cells and keeping them healthy. Sleep also plays a vital role in repairing damage from UV exposure, reducing wrinkles and improving the appearance of sunspots.
5. You Feel Mentally Sharp
Ask any neurologist what the secret is to a healthy brain, and they’ll likely tell you the same thing: getting consistently good sleep. During sleep, your brain literally clears your mind, flushing out harmful toxins that build up during our waking hours. Sleep also assists with mental recovery, which can boost cognitive performance in relation to attention, thinking and memory. So, if you’ve been feeling more creative, attentive and mentally sharp lately, it may be the result of getting a proper amount of high-quality sleep.
6. Your Weight Doesn’t Fluctuate
Despite having a perfect diet and hitting the gym regularly, many people struggle to keep the pounds off. Why? One possible explanation is that their sleep quality leaves much to be desired.
Sleep is thought to affect hormones that help regulate hunger — like ghrelin and leptin. When these hunger hormones get out of whack, we’re more likely to crave carb-heavy foods — especially at nighttime.
If you notice that your weight has been stable the last few months or that you’re successfully shedding excess pounds, it’s a telltale sign that you’re getting enough snooze.
We’re constantly being bombarded with news articles that stress the importance of getting good sleep. But let’s face it — knowing when you’re getting enough shut-eye can be tough. By keeping a lookout for these telltale signs, you can have confidence that you’re getting healthy, quality slumber.