We all get them, that morning when you want to turn the alarm off and get an extra hour of sleep. You may feel guilty sleeping an extra hour rather than starting your day, but after extensive research we think the answer should be “why not?”Not only will you be comfy for another hour before your day begins, but it’s actually better for your health –scientists say so! Need proof? Read on!
Snooze and reap the benefits
An extra hour of sleep might feel like a special treat, but it can make a huge difference to your daily life, especially if you are not getting a full night’s sleep normally. So what does that sneaky hour do for you?
Feel refreshed and ready to face the day. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to wake-up mentally and physically prepared rested. During that time, your body goes through regular 90-minute sleep cycles where deep sleep and REM occur and get longer with each cycle. Deep sleep is when the mind and body has a chance to rest, recuperate and regenerate – all vital for a healthy body and mind – so the longer you spend in that sleep phase, the more time your body has to repair and reset. If you are not waking before your alarm, recognized by scientists as a sign that you have had enough sleep, then try an extra hour of sleep to see if you wake up feeling more rejuvenated.
Keep your heart happy. Your heart will love you for that extra time, as research has shown that increasing your sleep by just one hour has been shown to reduce blood pressure significantly. According to scientists from the University of Chicago, who conducted the five-year research, "the benefit of one hour of additional sleep was comparable to the gains from lowering systolic blood pressure by 17mm Hg". This means a reduction of over 15% in the average person.
Boost your immune system. Those who sleep well are much less likely to get ill as their immune system is stronger. Always picking up colds and coughs? Maybe you just need an extra hour of sleep.
Learn as you sleep. Your brain also takes advantage of sleep to boost its power, everything from learning ability, mental agility and memory are improved during deep sleep and Everything you have encountered during the day is consolidated, processed, and stored during these precious hours so give your brain as much time as you can!
Reduce stress. Sleep allows the body to distress naturally, so an extra hour will help bring down stress levels and calm your mind.
Trigger good genes. Some of your genes require extra sleep to properly switch on or off. Yes, it sounds strange but it’s true! A study by the BBC saw participants split into two groups who slept either 6 and a half or 7 and a half hours. Blood tests from the group who slept longer showed that they had switched up to 500 genes on or off -- with the changes all for better health. The changes were seen in genes that protect against diseases such as diabetes and inflammation.
Get a competitive edge. If you are looking to step up your game, it could be that more sleep is better than extra practice. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just your weekly football game with your mates, just one extra hour of sleep has been shown to improve your athletic performance the next day, even if it’s not a regular thing. But if you could do it every night, who knows… the sky’s the limit!
Increased productivity. Who doesn’t want to get more done in their day? With more sleep, your reactions become quicker, your brain thinks clearer and you are better able to multitask. You might lose an hour of your working day, but if you are getting more done and boosting your performance, surely that’s a good trade?
Wondering where to find that extra hour?
Unless you are benefiting from the daylight savings, it may seem hard, but stealing an extra hour from your day is surprisingly easy!
Head to bed earlier
- The weekend is the ideal time to stay in bed a little longer. Surely the washing/ironing/shopping can wait an hour?
- If your boss is flexible, it might be possible to go into work just a little later. With the extra productivity discussed earlier, you’ll make up for it!
- If the kids are off school, there’s no need to stick to an early timetable, enjoy it while you can!
- Set a strict work cut off and stick to it to prevent work seeping into leisure time.
- The same with evening TV or reading -- stop earlier than normal and hit the sack!
Get creative. If you feel you need a reason to justify getting the extra hour, try these:
- Studies have shown that the extra sleep doesn’t have to be added to your normal sleep session, so why not use lunchtime to catch 20 winks while the office has some downtime?
- “I’m only testing my new mattress / pillow / duvet” (delete as needed!)
- “The dog is sleeping… can’t possibly wake him”
- “But it’s World Sleep Day.... “ (only really possible on March 15 for 2019!)
How to prepare for your extra hour
In order to make the most of your extra sleep time, it’s important to make sure your environment is as sleep-educing as possible:
- Keep the temperature at a constant 18 degrees for the entire time you plan to be asleep
- Double check you have changed your alarm from your normal time
High-quality cotton sheets will work to regulate your body temperature throughout the night
- Plan for unexpected noises with earplugs or eye masks until you are familiar with your new sleep schedule
- Maintain your normal sleep routine – warm drink, reading, bath etc – just make it an hour earlier!
What effect would an hour of less sleep have?
Sometimes achieving balance means staying up just a little longer – to watch an extra episode of your favorite show or having a leisurely dinner with the ones who matter. Don’t sweat it, it’s all about balance, right? In fact, if you are prepared, you can even bank sleep ahead of time to counteract any potential sleepiness! Remember, the benefits of good company and enjoying yourself are not to be underestimated, so a lost hour here and there will only contribute to your mental and physical health, not take away from it, more than compensating for a small lack of sleep.
Find your balance
As you can see, the benefits of getting an extra hour as scientifically proven to help increase your physical and mental health in the short and long term, but much as we would all love to grab that extra hour every night, it might mean you miss out on other things so it’s important to strike a balance between work, family and friends
The benefits you get from using that extra hour to go to the park with friends, catch a movie with your loved one or taking an extra gym class on your own may be better than pressing that snooze button. Take time to enjoy some extra sleep with a lie-in or a quick nap, but ensure you keep a healthy balance... as with everything in life!
Certified Wellness Consultant &
Co-founder of Hush Home
As a certified health and wellness consultant, Stephanie is on a mission to inspire everyone to live a fuller life by sleeping better.
Stephanie designs and leads Hush Home's sleep workshops for Fortune Global 500 Companies such as Citibank, Manulife, and Standard Chartered to boost their employee performance and productivity with sleep science.
When Stephanie is not getting her 8 hours of snooze in, or reading and writing about sleep & wellness, she’s probably somewhere hiking with her little pomeranian, Dookie!