Sleep: How much is enough?

There’s nothing quite as reviving as a good night’s sleep, but how many of us achieve that regularly? And how many people genuinely suffer from insomnia? Around 20-25% of people in the world are sleep deprived and 6% are insomniacs. The main difference between those two groups is that the insomniac has the opportunity for adequate sleep but has trouble falling or staying asleep.

Sleeping Pills

Many people who have trouble sleeping resort to sleeping pills, which carry their own risks. Not least of these is, ironically, that they can cause drowsiness into the day, potentially affecting people’s ability to travel or work.

Prescription sleeping pills are often “sedative hypnotics” and don’t induce the same quality of sleep that the body should achieve naturally. What’s more, studies link them to a significantly increased risk of cancer and shortened lifespan.

Global Sleeping Stats

The extent of sleep deprivation around the world makes for startling reading. Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect that many people enjoy the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night, but there isn’t a single country that reaches that average. In fact, there are many countries that fall far below the minimum 7-hour threshold.

Among the most sleepless nations in the world are Japan at 05:59, Saudi Arabia at 06:08, Sweden at 06:10 and India at 06:20 hours. Countries like Great Britain, Finland and the Netherlands do at least get close to 07:30 hours of sleep. These results are skewed by all sorts of factors, including seasonal variation, age of population, daytime napping habits (prevalent in Asia), wealth and technology.

The net conclusion is that many people do not get enough uninterrupted, quality sleep, and that affects every aspect of life, including work, mental wellbeing and lifespan. So, what’s the solution? For starters, you can track your sleep using phone apps and try to stay out of deficit. In addition, there are products available that will help you sleep in a gentler, more natural way than prescription drugs. Relaxation techniques and homeopathic treatments are also worth investigating.