In today’s fast-paced world, a good’ night sleep has become something of an indulgence. It’s fallen down our list of priorities behind work, chores, social time, and entertainment.
However, sleep shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s as important to your physical and mental health as food and water. The body’s need for sleep is a relatively new research field. Scientists are looking into what happens to the body during sleep and why the process itself is so essential. We do know that sleep is necessary to:
- maintain critical body functions
- restore energy
- repair muscle tissue
- allow the brain to process new information
We also know what happens when the body doesn’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause a range of mental and physical problems, including impairing your ability to:
- think clearly
- control emotions
This can result in serious problems in the workplace and at home.
Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk for serious health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. It can also affect your immune system, reducing your body’s ability to fight off infections and disease. Our sleep habits — and sleep needs — change as we age.
According to recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, you should aim to get the amounts of sleep listed below:
|65 and up||7 to 8 hours|
|18 to 64 years old||7 to 9 hours|
|14 to 17 years old||8 to 10 hours|
|6 to 13 years old||9 to 11 hours|
Younger children have even greater sleep needs. Many kids will reach their sleep goals with the help of naps.
|3 to 5 years old||10 to 13 hours|
|1 to 2 years old||11 to 14 hours|
|4 to 11 months old||12 to 15 hours|
|0 to 3 months old||14 to 17 hours|
Certain factors influence how much sleep you’ll need. Genetics can determine how long you sleep. Your genes can also play a role in how well you respond to sleep deprivation.
Likewise, the quality of sleep you get when you’re catching Zzz’s is a factor in how much sleep you ultimately need each night. People who get good quality sleep without waking up may need a little less sleep than people who frequently wake up or have trouble staying asleep. Each person has unique sleep needs.