Required Amount of Sleep

How Much Sleep Do You Need? 

An American study linked life spans with sleep amount and found that those who sleep 4 to 7 hours live the longest, with those sleeping less than 4 or more than 9 hours living shorter lives. The National Sleep Foundation however maintains that 8 hours of sleep is optimal, claiming improved performance in tests, reduced risk of accidents and a better immune system. It is important to mention this does not apply to children and adolescents, particularly children who require as much as 13 hours a night.

Sleep Comfort PhotoJust how much sleep you need each day will depend very much on your age and your state of health. But sleep is not simply about the time that you spend sleeping, but is also very much a question of the quality of that sleep. So, if you are getting the right amount of sleep and are still getting up each morning feeling tired and going through your day unable to concentrate fully, and perhaps being a little irritable, then there's a very good chance that you're not getting enough deep sleep and could well be suffering from insomnia.

Infants. Newborn babies clearly need the greatest amount of sleep and will normally sleep in cycles of about four hours waking when it's time to be fed and changed. Infants require about 16 hours a day. From 6 months to about 3 years, children`s sleep requirement decreases to about 14 hours.

Children. Surprisingly enough older children and even teenagers should also be getting a similar amount of sleep and ten hours sleep a day for children is a good figure to aim for.

Teenagers. Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep a night. For many years it has been thought that teenagers, who were sleeping for more than eight hours a day were simply lazy, but this is in fact far from the truth. Bearing in mind the level of activity that most children are involved in each day, both at school and in their free time, and the fact that their bodies are growing and changing rapidly, there is a genuine need for more than the traditional eight hours of sleep to be given the best conditions for development.

Adults. Most adults need about seven to nine hours of restorative sleep a night, although the amount ranges from 5 to 10 hours of sleep each day depending on the individual. Our biological clocks run on a 25 hour cycle, rather than the 24 hours we have tuned our daily lives around. This is why it is easier for most people to go to bed later, than it is to wake up early.

Sleepless photoPregnant Women. One exception in the case of adults is that of pregnant women. Women in the first trimester of pregnancy, and sometimes throughout pregnancy, need significantly more sleep than usual. Pregnant women should generally increase their sleep during this time by about two or three hours.

Missing the odd few hours of sleep here and there will not do you any harm but if you find that you're regularly falling short on sleep then this can have serious consequences. We all suffer from the occasional insomnia, but insomnia that continues for more than a month or six weeks can have a marked effect on your health and general quality of life.

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