How Much Sleep Do Adults Need?
A large amount of research by professionals who study these things, show that men need between seven and eight hours of sleep and women, a bit less, at six to seven hours. That six to seven hours for women refers to adult and/or elderly women.
How Much Sleep Do Newborns and Infants Need?
Incredible as it sounds, after reviewing over 300 studies, the National Sleep Foundation now claims that newborns and infants need as much as 14 to 17 hours and 12 to 15 hours respectively. Toddlers and preschoolers can get by on 11 to 14 and 10 to 13 hours respectively.
How Much Sleep Do Teenagers Need?
Elementary school age children need 9 to 11 hours and from teenage years on, the number is between 8 and 10 hours with 8 hours being recommended for adults and senior citizens.
We’re not talking about catnaps and fitful sleep; for healthy sleep, it has to be good, uninterrupted continuous sleep.
Restoration starts taking place about two and a half hours into a good sleep. This goes to the fact that sleep is not a steady state process; it occurs in stages and certain things happen in each stage.
We will take a look at stages of sleep in a separate section; click on sleep stages to navigate there when you are ready.
The experts aren’t sure exactly why, but if we get less than the optimal amount of healthy sleep and we increase our risk of arterial aging and heart attack.
According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, in his book, “You! The Owners Manual”, adequate sleep greatly contributes to heart and brain health and can make us up to 3 years younger.
Lack of sleep sets up a stress response, with cortisol being released into the blood stream thus increasing the risk for arterial scarring and plaque buildup.
A good night of healthy sleep is one of the most crucial things we can do for our body.
Inadequate sleep reduces our cognitive abilities, making us less mentally aware. Lack of sleep results in us making bad choices.
When we are fatigued we eat more and tend to eat more of the wrong stuff. We crave sugar when we’re tired.
Sleep and Serotonin
There is a “feel good” hormone called serotonin, a neurotransmitter. It’s a chemical released in the brain and it has a role in the modulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, sexuality, appetite, and metabolism. All very important functions to us human beings.
If we don’t get our required daily allowance of sleep, our brain doesn’t release enough serotonin. So a mechanism kicks in that makes us try to compensate by taking in more foods with sugar or really harmful substances like tobacco.
Sleep deprivation also contributes greatly to accidents and makes us more accident prone. I can attest to that first hand. Driving home early one morning after working a night shift I saw a guy die when his car hit the guard rail, flip over and roll a few times. I found out later that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. Think about it; one minute you’re driving down the freeway and a second later you’re facing eternity.
Sleeping Effects on Brain
Here’s one more. The brain plays a big role in gastrointestinal function. Want to eat less, sleep more. Here’s how it works. A hormone called ghrelin tells our brain when we’re hungry and another called leptin tells our brain when we’re full.
What Happens When We Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
When we don’t get enough sleep, more ghrelin is released and less leptin is released. So lack of sleep disrupts the proper control of these two hormones, thus causing us to overeat. Who would have thought that the current obesity epidemic might be linked to not getting enough sleep?