Friday, October 31, 2014

How many hours of sleep do we need to maintain good health?

Have you ever wondered just how much sleep you should be getting? There are many factors that determine the proper amount of sleep for each of us including our age. Doctors recommend that infants and toddlers be allowed to sleep 9 – 10 hours each night in addition to approximately 3 hours nap time. School age children no longer require a nap but should be sleeping from 9 – 11 hours. As adults we need the least sleep of all according to the experts, maybe 7 – 8 hours.

This seems simple enough but there are many other factors that determine how much rest we need in order to feel revitalized and fresh the next morning. Pregnant women may require more sleep than other adults and the elderly among us need only about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. However, an older person may tend to sleep “lighter” and for fewer hours than they did when they were younger. This is why good ole’ Uncle George always falls asleep during the Super Bowl!

Regardless of your age if you have not slept enough recently you will require more sleep to “catch up” on your rest. Remember the old wives’ tale that you can never catch up on your sleep? Well, it’s just that, a wives’ tale. Sleep quality also plays a vital role in how many hours we should plan for each evening. If you are frequently interrupted during sleep you will require additional time to recoup. It is true that the quality of our sleep is just as important as the quantity.

Research indicates that people that sleep less than 7 hours a night are not able to concentrate as well as people that sleep 7 hours or more. Perhaps the most surprising results from various studies is the fact that the mortality rate of adults that get less than 7 hours sleep each night or much more is higher than those that average 7 – 8 hours consistently. It seems that too much sleep is also not healthy.

If you have consistent difficulty sleeping well you should probably consult with your doctor. Lack of sleep can affect our mood and our lives in many ways and everyone is entitled to a good night’s rest.

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