Sleep is one of the basic needs for good health. Humans spend one third of their entire lives sleeping. The need of sleep is very high as optimal functioning of the body is only possible with good amount of sleep. The right amount of sleep recommended vary as per the studies and differ from person to person. Sleep can be taken as a vital indicator of health of a person, as the brain and body maintain itself during that time.
A human body knows how much rest it needs. This is driven by a cycle of rhythm known as “Circadian Rhythm”. It is the biological clock of sleep that functions with the help of hormones So, people’s assumption on the appropriate amount of sleep they need is correct most of the times. But people now-a-days are so caught up in their lives that even though they are aware about the hours of sleep they need, they do not implement their knowledge. Consequently theses people do not get enough sleep which leads to restlessness, bad mood swings and many other health problems including emotional imbalance.
“Sleep debt” is the amount of sleep you get subtracted by the amount of sleep you need. The debt must be cleared to stay healthy. But it does not happen by sleeping for less hours during the weekdays and sleeping more in the weekends. To balance your sleep. you must start by adding few hours of sleep per day.
Some other factors that disturb sleep are drinks with caffeine like coffee and energy drinks. These things mess with sleep cycle disrupting the brains signal for sleep.
“Sleep needs spectrum” is a method used by doctors to evaluate the need of sleep according to the age of the person, the work he/she is involved in, working hours, health conditions and to check if the person is suffering from sleep deprivation. The spectrum looks at the lifestyle and analyzes the sleep needed by an individual. Both quality and quantity of sleep is measured.
How many hours of sleep do we need?
There is no exact value of “how much to sleep” but there are ranges of sleeping hours that is best suited according to the age of a person. The general recommended required hours according to the studies conducted by National Sleep Foundation are
Newborns (0 to 3 months)
Newborns need 14 to 17 hours of sleep daily. If they sleep more, it might be a reason to worry. And if they sleep less, exhaustion will prevail increasing the need of nutrients.
Infants (4 to 11 months)
Infants must sleep in the range of 12 to 15 hours. Proper growth, both physical and mental, depends upon this resting range.
Toddlers (1 to 2 years)
Toddlers are supposed to sleep for 11 to 14 hours per day.
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)
Preschoolers must sleep for 10 to 13 hours per day. They have to get proper rest as they are very active at this age.
School going children (6 to 13 years)
These children have mental pressure in addition to the physical stress while they are at school. So they must spend at least 9 to 11 hours of their time sleeping.
Teenagers (14 to 17 years)
Teenagers must sleep for 8 to 10 hours according to their sleep cycle. They must not exert themselves with less sleep. Proper rest is required for proper growth.
Young adults (18 to 25 years)
People within this age group have to sleep for 7 to 9 hours. The answer to how much sleep is required for humans is always 7 according to most of the people. The answer only applies to the people who are above 18 years of age.
Adults (26 to 64 years)
Adults have the same requirements of sleep as young adults, that is 7 to 9 hours, but their need is a little less than young adults. Adults have a shorter sleep cycle as they are fully developed physically. And also mental development becomes slow after the age of 25.
Old people (More than 65 years)
Sleep cycle of old people is about 7 to 8 hours. They can suffer from many health conditions which prevents them from having a full cycle. Sleep cycle of old people must be considered and looked after very seriously as sleep deprivation affects them as much as the small children.
Questions to ask yourself
You can ask these questions to yourself to understand your own sleep needs. If you find something wrong, you might have to consult a doctor. But don’t panic, you can change your habit and try to adjust to your sleep cycle.
- Do you feel alright with 7 hours of sleep? Or with some more added hours?
- Do you feel rested and refreshed when you wake up?
- Do you consider yourself healthy and active?
- Are you overweight?
- Do you get quality sleep?
- Do you have problems sleeping?
- How much caffeine do you consume?
- Do you feel sleepy when you concentrate on your work?
Thus, make sleep one of your priorities and stick to a schedule to get good sleep, with quality and quantity as well. It is a part of healthy lifestyle and will help you in the long run. Try for yourself to get proper sleep and see what suits you. Surely, you will have good mood, health and energy levels once you figure out your need. Donot cut back on your sleep. The basic way to know if you are not deprived of sleep is by analyzing your daytime functioning. That is what you should be doing. If you experience severe sleep deprivation then you must see a doctor immediately.