How Much Sleep Does Your Body Need?

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You are keeping fit by visiting the gym and eating a balanced diet, but do you get sufficient sleep? Sleep is very vital to your emotional and physical well-being. While everyone deserves enough sleep, the exact hours are determined by your age. Also, the stage of development of a child determines how many hours he/she should sleep.

Phyllis Zee

Phyllis Zee, MD, PHD, Neurology, NMH Sleep Center

According to Phyllis C. Zee MD, Ph.D., sleep is vital for mental functions including mood regulation, memory consolidation, alertness and physical health. Dr. Zee is a professor of neurology and the director of Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University Feinberg.

Dr. Zee holds that getting a poor sleep or sleeping for few hours could lead to emotional and physical problems such as obesity and diabetes. Ideally, sleep loss leads can a state of insulin resistance, which occurs when your body experiences changes in how it handles glucose. Also, there is strong evidence that poor sleep affects appetite regulation, which consequently causes overeating or food options that can cause obesity and overweight.

Sleep Changes with Age

The number of hours that you sleep to stay active healthy and alert depends on your age. However, the hours can vary from one person to another. Adults require about seven hours of sleep. But the hours can even more. On the other hand, young children require many hours of sleep, with an average of 10 hours each day.

The National Sleep Foundation searched through 300 studies in a bid to determine the exact hours a person needs to sleep depending on their age. 18 sleep experts were also involved in this inquiry. Here are the findings;

  • Newborns 0-3 months: 14-17 hours of sleep
  • Infants 4-11 months: 12-15 hours of sleep
  • Toddlers 1-2 years: 11-14 hours of sleep
  • Pre-schoolers 3-5 years: 10-13 hours of sleep
  • School-aged children 6-13: 9-11 hours of sleep
  • Teenagers 14-17 years: 8-10 hours of sleep
  • Young adults 18-25 years: 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Adults 26-64: 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Older adults 65-higher: 7-8 hours of sleep

Gender impacts sleep patterns

Even though men and women require 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day, their sleep patterns differ considerably. Women usually sleep more hours than men and have a lighter sleep that can be disrupted easily. Most women may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.men and women sleep different

Various issues can affect women’s sleep including pregnancy, depression, events like divorce, hormonal changes (menopause), sleep disorders (i.e. restless leg syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea), and medical issues such as back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Job-related stresses are the main factor that affects men’s sleep. Also, most men assume sleep and thus, they end up staying awake for many hours than recommended. Additionally, providing for kids, family and household tasks add pressure on men.

Other factors that affect men’s sleep include life affairs (concerning divorce/marriage, employment, money, and children), medical complications such as heart disease and epilepsy, substance abuse, sleep disorders and depression.

If you are not getting enough sleep, you should take action to avoid overweight and obesity. First, you can change your lifestyle (stop substance abuse, get marriage counseling). You can also get some assistance from your doctor. Second, ensure you sleep on a comfortable bed; you can add some pillows to make it extra comfortable. Although your bed will not solve the problem, if it is cozy, it will lure you to sleep much longer..


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