We all know that sleep is important, but how many hours of sleep do you really need? This article outlines the recommended amount of sleep you need, how to get better sleep and covers a few sleep myths that you might have heard.
Between caffeine and blue light, it seems as though everything we come into contact with has the potential to keep our mind stimulated, awake, and on-the-go. It’s safe to say that we can all relate to scrambling to meet the demands of a busy schedule and we’ve all had nights where we just can’t seem to fall asleep no matter how hard we try. But even minimal sleep loss can take a heavy toll on your mood, energy, mental focus and ability to handle stressful situations. It can really wreak havoc on your mental and physical health, and that’s why it’s important to learn more about how to sleep better.
Recommended Hours of Sleep
Although the optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person, many studies from all over the world have universally agreed that the majority of people need approximately eight hours of sleep (or seven to nine hours to be precise).
Below, we’ve mapped out a chart that outlines the recommended hours of sleep by each age group.
Although there is no such thing as a one-size fits all approach to sleep, most people still need approximately eight hours of sleep. This is because many studies over the years have all come to the same conclusion that seven to nine hours is the appropriate amount for healthy young adults and adults with normal sleep. The only difference is that the amount can vary throughout different stages of our lives.
- Newborns require 14-17 hours
- Infants require 12-15 hours
- Toddlers require 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers require 10-13 hours
- School age children require 9-11 hours
- Teenagers require 8-10 hours
- Adults require 7-9 hours
- Elders require 7-8 hours
For children, getting the optimal amount of sleep on a regular basis as outlined by their age group, has been linked with better mental and physical health, attention, behavior, learning, ability to control emotions, and overall well being.
For adults, getting any less than seven hours of sleep on a regular basis has been linked to poor health. It can lead to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, depression and many underlying health problems and sleep disorders.
Additional Factors Related to Sleep
In addition to age, there are other factors that can affect how many hours of sleep a person needs. Some examples of these factors include:
- Sleep quality. If you find that your sleep is constantly being interrupted, you’re definitely not getting enough sleep, let alone quality sleep. It’s just as important as the quantity.
- Sleep deprivation. If you’re feeling sleep deprived, then the hours of sleep you require will need to be increased as well to make up for the lack of sleep that you’re getting.
- Aging. Studies show that older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. But as you get older, your sleep patterns and natural melatonin production might change. In fact, many older adults tend to take longer to get to sleep, sleep for shorter periods of time and wake up much more easily.
- Pregnancy and hormonal levels. Changes in hormone levels can result in poor sleep, as well as any sort of physical discomforts.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is truly important because it can directly affect your mental and physical health throughout the day. It impacts your productivity, emotional balance, immune function and heart health. So if you’re wondering how to get better sleep, it’s best to do your research and start changing your daily habits and routine now.
Sleep isn’t just a time when your body shuts off. When you’re resting, your brain stays busy by preparing you for the next day. It does so by restoring many biological activities that require maintenance and recovery that typically happens when you fall asleep. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, and communicate effectively, and you might even be more prone to mental and physical breakdowns. But before you start to worry, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need to make a choice between health and productivity. By taking care of your health, and addressing sleep issues, your ability to be productive will naturally be much more effective.
Myths and Facts about Sleep
Myth: Your body can easily adjust to different sleep schedules.
Fact: Although most people can reset their biological clock, it can sometimes take more than a week to adjust after traveling across different time zones, or switching to night shifts at work.
Myth: Getting one hour less of sleep will not affect your daytime functioning.
Fact: You may not be noticeably sleepy throughout the day, but losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your energy and overall health.
Myth: Extra sleep at night can cure excessive daytime fatigue.
Fact: Even though the quantity of sleep is important, it’s the quality of sleep that really determines whether you are well rested or not. Many people can sleep well over eight hours a night and can still feel fatigued and not well rested because the quality of sleep is poor.
Myth: You can make up for lost sleep by sleeping more on the weekends.
Fact: This type of sleep pattern can relieve some of your sleep debt, but it won’t completely make up for the lack of sleep symptoms that you will experience. In fact, sleeping later on weekends can also actually affect your sleep cycle and make it harder for you to fall asleep on Sunday nights before having to wake up early on Mondays.
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