How much sleep do I need?
Did you know that your health is directly related to your sleeping habits? Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. Many view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep outweigh the costs. People often overlook the potential long-term health consequences of insufficient sleep and the impact that health problems can ultimately have on one's time and productivity.
Many of the costs of poor sleep go unnoticed. Medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease develop over long periods of time and result from a number of factors such as genetics, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. Insufficient sleep has also been linked to these and other health problems, and is considered an important risk factor. Although scientists have just begun to identify the connections between insufficient sleep and disease, most experts have concluded that getting enough high-quality sleep may be as important to health and well being as nutrition and exercise.
Research shows that sleep is an important life function, during which our brain “cleans up” neurologic waste producted created during our daytime. Children who get less sleep may experience mood swings, feel sad or depressed and have trouble getting along with others. Adults who are habitually sleepy can feel less productive, cranky or irritable or feel the need to depend on caffeine to get them through their day.
So how much sleep should we get each night? The standards were recently updated:
Newborns (0-3 months):
Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
Infants (4-11 months):
Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
Toddlers (1-2 years):
Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
School-age children (6-13):
Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
Younger adults (18-25):
Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+):
Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but too few of us actually make those evening and nighttime hours beneficial. For many of us with sleep debt, we’ve forgotten what being truly rested feels like. Ask yourself “How often do I feel rested?” If the answer is “Not often,” you may need to examine your sleep habits to determine where positive changes can be made.
Good sleep habits include:
Cool, quiet and dark room to sleep in
Electronics off 1-2 hours before bedtime
No electronics in the bedroom
Stick to a sleep schedule, even on the weekends
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Here’s to a good night’s rest! Make it a priority and soon you will be feeling better and ready for your day each morning.