How much sleep do you need?

Why is sleep important and how much sleep do you need. Let’s start from the basics.
The quality of the sleep affects one’s mental and physical health as well as the quality of one’s life, including emotional balance, productivity, creativity, vitality, brain and hear health and even weight.

Sleep isn’t just a time when the body shuts off. While you are resting, the brain is still active,oversees the biological maintenance which keeps your body in top state and prepares you fort he next day. If you don’t sleep enough, you won’t be able to communicate, learn, create and work at your best. If you regularly sleep too little, you may reach a point where you are at a major physical and mental breakdown.

Myths and facts

  • Myth – if you sleep only one hour less a night, that won’t affect your performance.
    Fact – you may not notice a huge sleepiness but your ability to respond quickly and
    think properly will be affected. The lack of sleep also affects the energy balance, the
    cardiovascular health and the immune system.
  • Myth – the body quickly adjusts itself to different schedules of fleep
    Fact – most of the people can reset their so called biological clock but only with the
    properly times cues and, at best, this can happen with 1-2 hours a day. Switching to
    night shift may take more than one week for adjustment.
  • Myth – if you sleep extra during the night, this can cure the problems with daytime
    Fact – the quantity of the sleep is, of course, important but what really matters here is
    the quality of sleep. If the quality of your sleep is poor, then even 8-9 and more hours
    a night may not be enough to feel well rested.

How much sleep do you need

There is a difference between the amount of sleep necessary to get by and the amount of sleep necessary for optimal function. In today’s society we may think that 6-7 hours is a good night’s sleep but it actually leads to chronic sleep deprivation.
You may be able to function somehow with 6-7 hours of sleep a night but if you get a proper night’s sleep, then your performance can be optimal and you’ll be feeling much better.

Sleep requirements vary from one person to another but usually healthy adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night for optimal functioning. Kids and teens need more sleep.

  • Newborn to 3 months old – necessary sleep – 14-17 hours
  • 4 to 11 months old – necessary sleep – 12-15 hours
  • 1 to 2 years old – necessary sleep – 11-14 hours
  • 3 to 5 years old – necessary sleep – 10-13 hours
  • 6 to 13 years old – necessary sleep – 9-11 hours
  • 14 to 17 years old – necessary sleep – 8-10 hours
  • 18 to 25 years old – necessary sleep – 7-9 hours
  • 26 to 64 years old – necessary sleep – 7-9 hours
  • 65+ years old – necessary sleep – 7-8 hours

The importance of REM sleep and deep sleep

But the hours of sleep aren’t the only thing that matters. Also important is its quality. There are different stages of sleep, each of which offers different benefits.

Deep sleep is the time when your body repairs itself. At this time it also builds up energy for the next day. Deep sleep and REM sleep are particularly important for the quality of your sleep. To ensure more of them, avoid nicotine, alcohol and being woken up throughout the night by light or noise.

Signs you aren’t sleeping enough

If you are sleeping less than eight hours a night, you are probably sleep deprived. But you may even not know how much is this affecting you. Signs you aren’t sleeping enough are:
– you need to nap during the day
– you fall asleep while relaxing or watching TV
– you need to sleep in during the weekend
– you fall asleep within 5 mins after going to bed
– you need alarm to wake up on time
– you hit the snooze button too often
– you find it hard to get out of your bed in the morning
– you get sleepy in warm rooms, lectures, and meetings
– you feel sluggish in the afternoon
– you feel drowsy after you’ve eaten or while you are driving.

What are the effects of being sleep deprived?

  • Increased risk of depression
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Fatigue, lack of motivation, lethargy
  • Relationship problems, decreased sex drive
  • Reduced creativity
  • Difficulties making decisions
  • Problems with learning, memory and concentration
  • Inability for coping with stress
  • Premature skin aging
  • Difficulties with managing your emotions
  • Weakened immune system
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Delirium
  • Increased risks of various health problems – including high blood pressure, diabetes,stroke, etc.
  • Increased risk of accidents

As you can see, sleep deprivation has serious toll on your mental and physical health so try to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

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