Did you know sleep is one of the most important factors in our overall general health and wellbeing? You probably know how a poor night’s sleep can affect your mood and cognitive ability the next day, but did you know that not getting enough sleep can have adverse effects on your health in the long term? Research now suggests that lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Why do we need to sleep?
Each night, we go through 2 main sleep stages: non-rapid eye movement (NREM), and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Around 80% of our sleep is NREM which is characterized by electrical patterns in our brain known as ‘sleep spindles’ and high, slow delta waves. This is the time we sleep the deepest and without this kind of sleep, we would be unable to form declarative memories, associate pairs of words and transfer short-term memories into long-term storage. This deep NREM sleep is also the time of peak growth hormone release in the body, which is important for cell reproduction and repair.
So how much sleep do we need?
The National Sleep Foundation conducted a world-class study that took more than two years of research to complete and concluded that the amount of sleep required depends on the age of the person. Here are the results:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
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