Why is Sleep Important?
Having a restful and good sleep is extremely important for all of us as a good and restful sleep impacts directly on the way we carry out our activities when we are awake which includes both activities at home and at work. A good sleep increases the productivity, keeps you emotionally fit, and is good for the brain, health and overall immune system of the body. In fact, a good sleep is the best way to give adequate rest to the body which is very active and stressed during the day.
Falling asleep does not mean that the entire body shuts down. When we are asleep the brain is working overlooking at the various biological processes taking place within the body and keeps the body fit for the stress that the body has to undertake the next day. If we do not get proper sleep, we will not be able to perform our duties to our potential whether it be at work or at home. If there are frequent days of lack of sleep then it may lead to potentially major physical and mental breakdown due to not getting Adequate Sleep.
How Much Sleep is Actually Needed for Good Health?
Coming to the question of actually how much sleep is required for an individual to give the body the desired rest then there is quite a lot of difference. According to the National Institute of Health, an average individual gets about 6-7 hours of sleep at night. Looking at the number of hours it may look quite satisfying given the fast life that one is living in today's world but in actuality an individual requires at least 8-9 hours of sound sleep to function at his or her best and just getting about 7 hours of sleep is simply not enough for the body to recuperate from the stresses it has gone through in the day.
This does not mean that if you sleep for a couple of hours more that you will be able to do that much more in the day. By 8-9 hours of sleep means a good deep restful sleep without any periods of awakening is what is required for an individual to function well during the daytime. This timeline is only for adults. When it comes to children and teenagers then they require even more amount of sleep in order to function at their best.
Some studies suggest that as one grows older the number of hours that he or she can sleep gets decreased but it is still required by the body to get a restful sleep of at least 7 hours in case of older adults.
Summarizing, newborn babies up to the age of 3 months need at least 14-17 hours of sleep. This decreases to 12-15 hours as the child grows and is in the age range of 4 to 11 months of age. A child between 1 and 2 years of age needs at least 11-14 hours of sleep which decreases to 7-11 hours by the time the child is 12 years of age. Coming to young adults between the age range of 18-25 years at least 9 hours of sleep is required. Middle aged individuals require at least 7-9 hours of sleep. Older adults, meaning that people above the age of 65, need at least 7 hours of sleep in order for them to be able to function at their best and allow their body to function normally.
What are the Signs of Sleep Deprivation and What are its Effects?
If an individual is getting less than 8 hours of sleep on a consistent basis then he or she may be called as a sleep deprived individual. The individual may not even be aware that he or she is sleep deprived and how much toll is the sleep deprivation taking on the individual's body.
If an individual has been sleep deprived for a long period of time then he or she may not even know how it feels to be completely rested after a good night's sleep. Sleep deprive person may fall asleep while in a meeting or in a conference quite easily. After having lunch in the afternoon, it may become exceedingly difficult for the individual to stay awake and work due to severe drowsiness that he or she may feel due to sleep deprivation. Some of the signs that may point towards an individual having sleep deprivation are:
- Feeling sluggish and drowsy throughout the day
- Feeling drowsy after a heavy meal or lunch
- Necessity to get a nap in the afternoons
- Falling asleep while sitting idle or while watching TV
- Extreme fatigue and not enough desire to do anything
- Always requiring an alarm clock to wake the individual up
- Having trouble getting up out of bed in the morning
- Irritability and moodiness
- Decreased libido
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Having trouble coping with increased stress
- Premature signs of aging
Ways to Get Required Sleep to Maintain Good Health?
Some of the ways to get required sleep for good health are:
- Consult with a physician and get a thorough checkup done to rule out any underlying medical condition causing sleep deprivation. There are certain medications which may also impair the sleeping abilities of an individual.
- Try and maintain a regular sleep schedule with getting to bed at a stipulated time and getting up at a particular time and try and maintain it as much as possible, including on the weekends. If practiced diligently within a few weeks a definite change will be observed and the individual will ultimately get the required sleep to maintain good health.
Exercising regularly can get rid of many problems related to inadequate sleep and hence it is recommended that sleep deprived people should exercise at least half an hour on a daily basis so as to get the required sleep to maintain good health.
- Try and stay away from caffeine, especially close to bedtime and stay away from alcohol as it tends to affect the sleep patterns. By doing this, you not only maintain a good health but also get rid of sleep deprivation and get required sleep to maintain good health.
- Coping with stress is an important aspect of maintaining a good sleep schedule. If an individual is stressed then it will be difficult for him or her to get a good sleep and hence consulting with a psychologist on strategies of coping with stress is recommended to get required sleep to maintain good health.
- The sleep ambience also plays an important role in an individual getting a good sleep. Try and keep the room dark and quiet when you sleep so that there is no external disturbance which may prevent you from getting the required sleep to maintain good health.