Sleep is one of the most important activities we engage in for good health, albeit it restfully, alongside exercise and good nutrition. Although scientists do not fully understand the role of sleep, it is very clear that sleep is good for optimal brain function. If you want to have good memory or good decision making ability you cannot afford to let sleep lag behind.
Scientists suspect that the ability to engage in deep restful sleep is one the reasons that humans have way more brain power than other animals. However, in the modern world, all too often we do not get the quality of sleep we deserve. Some agents such as coffee and alcohol are well known to interact with the sleep cycle. Coffee should not be taken late in the afternoon to avoid sleep interference. Excessive alcohol indulgence should not be undertaken if one is thinking of having good quality restful sleep. Other activities such as using electronic devices near bed time are well known to contribute to the disruption of the sleep cycle.
While we have pointed out some benefits of good sleep, it is important that we are aware of some of the consequences of sleep deprivation;
- Heart disease
- Immune system dysfunction with potential to increase risk of infection, inflammation and cancer.
- Endocrine abnormalities
So how many hours do we need to sleep?
According to the latest information from sleep foundation (sleepfoundation.org);
|Newborns (0-3 months)||14-17 hours of sleep|
|Infants (4-11months)||12-15 hours.|
|Toddlers (1-2 years)||11-14 hours|
|Preschoolers (3-5 years)||10-13 hours|
|School age children (6-13years)||9-11 hours|
|Teenagers (14-17 yrs)||8-10 hours|
|Young adults (18-25 yrs)||7-9 hours|
|Adults (26-64 yrs)||7-9 hours|
|Old Adults (65 and older)||7-8 hours|
If you suspect you are not getting enough sleep you should begin recording the amount of sleep you get.
Stretching, daily exercise, meditation, keeping a sleep schedule, are some of the strategies that could help you sleep better. Ensure that your bedroom is for sleep only. Always turn off electronic devices before bed and ensure that you sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow.