Why am I tired all the time? Part of our quick fire series - is the sleep you're getting efficient?

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Simple. Because you’re not sleeping for long enough and / or you’re not sleeping well enough.

You should be getting at least seven hours sleep.  Ideally seven and a half. Period. This means you’ll need at least eight hours in bed.  Nobody closes their eyes and wakes up seven and half hours later. We all wake up during the night; we use the toilet, disturbed by noise outside, a partner, too hot, too cold.  Everybody has broken sleep. This is called sleep efficiency.

Firstly, plan for spending about 85% of your time in bed asleep. If you spend eight and half hours in bed you’ll get about seven to seven and hours asleep.  We don’t all have the same sleep efficiency. Understanding yours and making space for it is key to waking up feeling rested.

There’s a lot you can do to improve your sleep efficiency, reduce noise in your house or how susceptible you are to it (double glazing, ear plugs, etc.), buy a big bed so your partner disturbs you less, don’t drink booze before sleeping, don’t drink too much liquid before bed, make sure your bedroom is as dark as you can get it, journal before bed to reduce ‘things on your mind’, these are just to name a few.

Your habits and routines during the day have a huge effect on your sleep efficiency and quality.  Getting natural daylight first thing in the morning, not drinking caffeine after 16:00, not using screen a few hours before bed and not using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex are some easy and significant step you can take.

Written by
Sam Billington

Sam is our sleep guru. I am fascinated by sleep and I've used my science training to research and learn about sleep. I have been providing sleep advice and personal sleep plans for years. My day job is Head of Workplace Culture in Defra, I live in London with my wife and have a PhD in Ecology and Biology.