Mentally, socially, professionally -- sleep impacts nearly every aspect of our lives and it can be crucial to our success. And while getting enough sleep is important, it’s also about getting the right sleep.
An unpublished study by Fitbit, led by Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Michael T. Smith, Jr., looked at aggregated data from millions of nights of sleep from Fitbit wearers to discover the importance of different types of sleep. The report, which took into account previous published studies, tracked sleep stages in real time rather than in an artificial sleep environment or lab.
Throughout a night’s sleep, we go through different stages, including light sleep, deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement). Each stage plays an important role in various aspects of our health and well-being, and will determine how you feel the next day.
So how can you get the most out of each stage? For starters, have a routine. While waking up early can give you more time in the day to get things done, don’t just do this once. In fact, waking up earlier than usual can have a negative effect, decreasing the amount of REM you get, according to the Fitbit study. REM sleep affects your well-being -- it’s the time when you dream the most, thus helping renew your mind and regulate emotions. In short, you should have a consistent sleep schedule.
Ever wonder why you feel so tired when you don’t get enough sleep? It’s because you’re cutting into the amount of time you have in “deep sleep,” the sleep stage which is responsible for feeling refreshed and energized in the morning. Deep sleep is responsible for physical processes in the body such as cell regeneration, human growth and moods.
“When sleeping less than seven hours, your body may not be getting enough of both deep and REM sleep, the two sleep stages that are very important to many aspects of maintaining your overall health,” Smith said in a press release.
If you’re a gen Zer, chances are you’re getting enough shut-eye at night. Out of all age groups, the study found that those ages 13 to 22 get the most sleep, averaging 6 hours and 57 minutes a night. Baby boomers came in second, with the average boomer snoozing 6 hours and 33 minutes every night.
But that doesn't mean baby boomers are getting the right sleep. In fact, the study found that as people get older, the amount of deep sleep they get decreases. The study found that 17 percent of an average 20-year-old’s sleep at night is spent in deep sleep, while this number decreases to 12 percent for a 70-year-old. If you’re female, it’s also likely that you’re getting more zzz’s at night, compared to men. An average female millennial gets 6 hours and 53 minutes of sleep at night, while the average male millennial gets 6 hours and 28 minutes.