The discussion about sleep baffles many, especially those in fast-paced money-finding environments. Sleep, to some, is a luxury not a necessity. Whether your lifestyle is this way by intent or reluctance, know that sleep will demand its due in suitable time.
Every human being is different. Depending on a person’s age, sleep needs will vary. According to Van Donen & Dinges (Principles and Practice of Sleep of Medicine, 2000) most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced.
The next obvious and indispensable question is, “How much sleep is enough?”
Although sleep needs vary from person to person, the amount of sleep a person gets each day changes at the different stages of life. The table below shows recommended number of sleep hours for different age groups.
|AGE||RECOMMENDED HOURS OF SLEEP|
|New born babies||16–18 hours a day|
|Preschool aged children||11–12 hours a day|
|School aged children||At least 10 hours a day|
|Teens||9–10 hours a day|
|Adults (including the elderly)||7–8 hours a day|
If a person routinely loses sleep for whatever reason, the number of hours of lost sleep adds up. This is a reason some people feel sleepy in between active work or school hours. This is why taking quick, effective naps is a good solution to boosting performance and alertness among many.
While the importance of sleep cannot be over-emphasized, negative sleep habits will by all means affect your health.
Why is sleeping well so important, anyway?
Here is why:
- The brain operates more sharply after a good night’s rest.
Studies show that a lack of sleep can result in either Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder-like behaviors or general absentmindedness and sleepiness. It is of no surprise that children and workers who are sharp in their various fields are usually never sleepy in between work or school hours.
- It provides a better sex life
According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, up to 26% of people say that their sex lives tend to suffer because they’re “just too tired.” If you’re “too tired” to have fun or spend good quality time with the person you claim to love, it is only natural that those “other areas” in your life you might be reserving energy for will be deprived you as well.
- It reduces a person’s risk of injury and accidents
It is for your own good that your mind is awake and alert when it needs to be. Would you fancy having to deal with a chauffeur who constantly nods off while driving you around town, a nanny who falls asleep while your kids get fascinated by the hearth in the fire place or a sleep walking teenager who doesn’t realize that there is an approaching vehicle coming at great speed?
- It promotes healthy weight maintenance
Most people, who think about dieting, forget the importance of having correct amounts of sleep. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat—56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.
- It enhances better judgments for decision-making
Healthy sleeping puts a person in a better frame of mind to make sound judgments about situations. Within decision-making bodies at different levels, it is imperative that individuals who form such bodies choose to do what is best for the people they represent. It will not be tolerated when a bad law is made because the majority of the members were too sleepy to think straight.