There’s one surprisingly simple way to check if you’re getting enough sleep.
According to Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep researcher and author of How To Sleep Well: ‘Ask yourself how you feel in the day?’ he says. ‘If between 11am and midday you feel alert and focused, you’ve had enough sleep. If you still feel sleepy, then you haven’t slept enough — or there could be a problem with your sleep.’
He adds: ‘It’s worth noting that there’s a difference between feeling tired and feeling sleepy. Often we say we’re tired, but what we mean is we’re fed up, over-worked or faced with too many decisions. But this is a psychological fatigue; it doesn’t necessarily mean you need more sleep.’ You could also try the following experiment. You’ll need a spoon and a metal tray. Lie down in a darkened room during the day, placing the tray on the floor by the bed. Hold the spoon in one hand and dangle it over the tray. Check the time and see how long it takes you to fall asleep. When you drift off, the spoon will drop onto the tray, waking you up — at which point, check the time.
If you nod off within five minutes, you’re severely sleep-deprived; ten minutes is a cause for concern; anything over 15 minutes (or not at all) is fine. An even simpler version would be to set an alarm for 15 minutes’ time and see if you fall asleep before the alarm goes off.