What is the Ideal Amount of Sleep?

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Do you feel reenergized and more refreshed when you wake up in the morning? Most people boast about how they can manage to sleep only for four hours a day. I guess that this behavior compromises their body functionality and work productivity. More often when people are asked the number of hours they sleep, the usual response is “it depends.” When one gets busier in life the first thing mostly sacrificed is sleep. This is very unfortunate because sleep is equated to overall wellbeing and body functionality. Just as nutrition, diet, and exercise are essential to one’s health, and so is sleep. Quality sleep is very critical irrespective of age and is associated with improved memory, attention, and complete physical and mental health (Lamberg, 303). Our bodies take the chance during sleep to repair tissues, cells, protein synthesis, and growth of muscles. All in all, the question remains, how much of rest is needed? This brings us to our in-depth discussion about what science presents us with regarding the ideal amount of sleep one needs.

            Sleep refers to a reversible state of lessened activity and responsiveness of the body defined by one’s brain wave activities (Lamberg, 304). Sleep is an active process as it involves various physiologic changes in the body. Research shows that rest is very vital in several body functions such as creating memories and releasing of hormones involved in growth, muscle repair and appetite (Lamberg, 303). Getting quality sleep promotes one's safety, quality of life, physical and mental well-being. It is approximated that over 25% of the population in the united states of America has an inadequate sleep (How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?). Adequate quality and duration of sleep help one to function optimally, create memories, make a wise decision, learn, concentrate and react promptly. Reducing sleeping time even by a single hour can negatively impact one’s thinking process and alertness the following day. Insufficient sleep is linked to adverse medical conditions such as kidney diseases, blood pressure, stroke, heart diseases, diabetes, and depression (How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?). Also, it can worsen chronic illnesses, obesity, hunger, and compromise immunity. It is also disastrous as it can result in tragic vehicle accidents if the driver is sleepy which can be fatal. 

            Average sleeping hours per day varies significantly from one individual to another. According to the National Sleeping Foundation recommendations, sleeping hours per day varies in different age groups as follows; Sleep duration for the newborns is between 14 and 17 hours, for infants its between 12 and 15 hours, for toddlers its between 11 and 14 hours, preschoolers of 10 to 13 years- (10-13) and school-going children within the age range of 14-17 -(9-11) hours. Teenagers of between 14 and 17 years- (8-10) hours, young adults of between 18-20 years (7-9) hours, adults with age ranging from 26 to 64 -(7-9) hours and finally older adults above 64 years of age-(7-8) hours. In most cases adults’ sleeping time remains stable in comparison to other age groups (National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times). If one wakes up feeling more reenergized, refreshed and capable of functioning well, it is likely that they had an excellent sleep. A small number of healthy individuals who require less than 6hours ‘short sleepers’ sleeping trait are said to be genetically predisposed. They are capable of performing their everyday duties well without symptoms of sleepiness during the day. Some people could not get through the day without dozing on and off if they slept for little hours. One may experience sleep deficient if they tend to sleep in the following situations: sitting quietly after heavy lunch, sitting and reading and sitting in inactive places.

            Some of the signs that show one did not have enough sleep include daytime sleepiness, fatigue, urge to nap, lack of energy, insomnia, sleeping for too long or too short, frequent waking up at night and rising too early (How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?). If one is experiencing problems having enough and quality sleep they should try out the following tips; first, go to bed soon and when tired, sleep for the expected duration and make it a routine. Secondly, the bedrum should be dark, quiet, relaxing and with ambient temperatures. Third, minimize environmental sleep disruptors such as allergens, noise, and pets. Fourth, have comfortable sheets, pillows, and bed. Fifth, avoid electronics such as watching tv or playing computer games or listening to music last but not least avoid heavy meals before bedtime, fluids, and caffeine. Finally, avoid drinking alcohol or smoking as it can result in nightmares and try out working out at least 30 minutes during the day (Lamberg, 306).

            To sum it up, sleep plays a vital role in systemic physiology (appetite regulation and metabolism), immunity, cardiovascular system, and brain functions. However, rest is imperative. Just because you have excessive sleepiness or little sleeping hours does not necessarily mean one is not having enough sleep. To attain the required sleep; timing, quality, duration and regularity depends on volitional traits partially dictated by physiologic and genetic factors (How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?). A large percentage inter-individual variability can be explained by environmental, psychological, cultural, social and behavioral factors. Medical conditions such as sleeping disorders can also be a cause of variability in sleeping hours of an individual. All in all, quality sleep and sleeping duration, in particular, is very critical to the wellbeing of a person and at the same time when it can be chaotic if it is not well adhered to the latter. Did you know you can go a week without food but not sleep? 

Works Cited

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0. Accessed 1 Dec. 2018.

Lamberg, Lynne. “Long Hours, Little Sleep.” Jama, vol. 287, no. 3, 2002, pp. 303–306.

National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times. Accessed 1 Dec. 2018.

August 09, 2023




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