We have heard people talk about how they manage to get about four hours of sleep and are still able to function well at their jobs. The truth of the matter is that they may be successful in their careers, but their health is suffering significantly. Many people may not have a clear understanding of how important it is to get a good night’s sleep and how it effects their body and mind, hence why many people take sleep for granted.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is an essential part of our existence, we spend a third of our lives sleeping. It is as important as eating and drinking water to maintain our mental and physical well-being. While we are sleeping our body repairs itself from the mental and physical processes it went through during the day.
How Much Sleep our Body Needs
How much sleep the body needs depends on our age and status of health. However, it is important to also asses your body’s responses to the different amount of sleep you get. It is recommended that we get eight hours of sleep a night, however, some people may feel sluggish by getting this much sleep because their bodies prefer only about six hours of restful sleep. It is always a wise decision to listen to the signals the body gives.
Here is a sleep guideline the National Sleep Foundation recommended for each age group:
- Newborns 0 to 3 months of age: recommended sleep of 14 to 17 hours a day.
- Infants 4 to 11 months of age: recommended sleep of 12 to 15 hours a day.
- Toddlers 1 to 2 years of age: recommended sleep of 11 to 14 hours a day.
- Preschoolers 3 to 5 years of age: recommended sleep of 10 to 13 hours a day.
- Children 6 to 13 years of age: recommended sleep of 9 to 11 hours a day.
- Teenagers 14 to 17 years of age: recommended sleep of 8 to 10 hours a day.
- Young adults 18 to 25 years of age: recommended sleep of 7 to 9 hours a day.
- Adults 26 to 64 years of age: recommended sleep of 7 to 9 hours a day.
- Older adults 65+ years of age: recommended sleep of 7 to 8 hours a day.
How Sleep Works
To better understand the importance of sleep, we need to have a better understanding of how sleep works or what is called the ‘sleep cycle’. The sleep cycle that our body undergoes is composed of two phases, the REM or rapid eye movement phase, and the NREM or non-rapid eye movement. These two phases are both vital to maintain proper bodily functions; for example, it is during the NREM phase of sleep that a hormone essential for the body’s growth and development is released, and during the REM phase we experience deep sleep, the phase where you also dream. On the other hand, memory consolidation is perceived to require both non-REM and REM phases to take place.
There are several factors that can disrupt ones sleep, such as snoring, sleep apnea, and environmental factors (noises, room temperatures, uncomfortable mattress and clothing). The negative effect of disrupted sleep usually affects the day you are about to face ahead. Since your body was not able to repair itself properly, you may feel less energetic and unable to focus (not to mention you will feel sleepier throughout the day). However, if disrupted sleep happens frequently, this can be hazardous to your health.
We can all benefit from knowing the importance of sleep and rest to for the body and mind. Currently the health industry is booming with all these new diets, new exercises, and newly discovered superfoods. If you are trying to achieve a healthy body and adapt a wholesome lifestyle, you should consider having the right amount of sleep which is as important as eating healthy and having a regular workout routine.