How Much Sleep Do We Really Need

How much sleep do you need? As babies, we need to sleep 12 to 16 out of each 24 hours, and by the time we’re teenagers, most people need 8 to 10 hours each night. By adulthood, that number drops to about 7 to 8 hours a night, and slightly less for seniors. However, sleep is personal, and sleep needs vary. So, if you’re asking, “How much sleep do I need?”, we can help.

First, consider your typical sleep patterns, daily activities, overall health, and general alertness. Is the amount of sleep you’re getting enough to keep you productive and happy? Do you ever feel sleepy during regular daily activities? Do you lean on caffeine to get you through the day, and do you sleep more when you don’t need to get up early? Finally, are you at high risk for any disease? Research indicates that lack of sleep is associated with conditions like weight gain, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression. If you’re already in a high risk group for any of these things, it’s better to err on the side of more sleep.

Note: sleep quality matters as much as sleep quantity. Sleep is a restorative process, and there are four stages of sleep. The first two stages are light sleep, but in stage three, your brain waves slow down, and you enter a period of deep sleep. This allows your body to repair tissue, work on growth and development, store energy for the next day, and strengthen your immune system. The fourth stage is stage R, occurring about 90 minutes after you fall asleep, and that’s when rapid eye movement, or REM sleep occurs. Your brain activity increases, your eyes move rapidly, and your pulse, breathing, and blood pressure increase. REM sleep is when you dream the most, and your brain uses this time to process information you’ve gathered during the day and store it in your long-term memory.

Regular sleep deprivation can have negative consequences. The effects of sleep deprivation cover a wide range, including things like memory problems, lack of motivation, diminished decision making, depression, and irritability, as well as a weakened immune system, higher pain sensitivity, a lower sex drive, and more. Further, if you’re already sleep deprived, there’s not really a way to catch up. You can get some extra sleep to undo some of these issues, but it won’t entirely erase your sleep debt.

The best course of action is to create some healthy sleep habits. Schedule your sleep and stick to your sleep schedule, even on weekends. Make your bedroom a sanctuary, free from electronics and disruptions. At bedtime, follow a regular routine that helps you relax. Exercise each day, limit naps, and if you find yourself lying awake at night, get up and do something quiet until you feel sleepy. If you have sleeping problems, talk to your doctor.

At Exceptional Healthcare we care about helping our patients live healthy lives. We can provide the care you need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. With 13 different locations across Texas to serve you, we’re here to help when you have an emergency. Visit our website to learn more or drop by to see our facilities for yourself.