It’s common knowledge that sleep quantity is different for everyone. Starting from an infant to an adult, your sleep needs vary depending on various factors. However, one thing remains common across all ages, the need for restful and restorative sleep.
We sleep about one-third of our life. The debate on how many hours it takes to get that restful sleep is a long lasting one. Some suggest 8 hours of sleep while other studies now claim as long as you get a minimum of 6 hours of quality sleep, you are sorted.
However, sleep needs vary depending on the health and lifestyle of an individual. Examining your work schedule, stress levels, intake of external stimulants like coffee or energy drinks, use of electronics before bedtime, all affect our natural sleep/wake rhythm. Assessing these factors can tell us clearly understand what should our sleep hours be to get a rested full night sleep?
Here are some general guidelines on sleep hours:
- No Alarm clock test
Pick a night to test this when you have no appointments scheduled for the next day. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants before you hit the bed. Now, take note of how many hours you sleep without using an alarm clock to wake yourself up. That’s right, wake up naturally. When your body is given the simple instruction to sleep and not to stress on waking up on time, you may get an indication of the number of hours of sleep your body needs. Do this for several consecutive nights and you’ll be able to judge better.
- Sleep calculators
These are widely available as phone apps and online. Sleep calculators work by counting the number of recommended sleep cycles, one of them lasting 90 to 120 minutes. Typically a restful night’s sleep should consist of 4 to 6 cycles.
- Sleep needs by age
Last but not least, sleep quantity based on the age of the individual.
Adults (20- 29 years): 7-9 hours
It is recommended to get a minimum of 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night in this age bracket. Many adults are new parents and often lack sleep with their newborn’s sleep schedule. This is also the bracket where students typically pull an all-nighter.
Adults (30-39 years): 7-9 hours
This is an age bracket where sleep may be harder to get or maintain even. Sleep apnea is a common disease and should be diagnosed at earliest.
Adults (40-64 years): 7-9 hours
Women in this age bracket often experience menopause that comes with estrogen fluctuations that result in disturbed sleep patterns. Studies show that 61% of women going through menopause reported symptoms of insomnia.
Adults (65 and older): 7 -8 hours
Contrary to popular belief, the older you get the same amount of sleep you need! The recommendation remains the same of 7 to 8 hours. The circadian rhythms of aged people are different from adults or kids. The advanced sleep phase syndrome occurs causing the elderly to become fatigued by early evening but to be an early riser.
Other tips include to stick to a regular or consistent sleep routine and schedule, exercise regularly, sleep on comfortable mattresses and pillows, evaluate sleep distracters and environment to ensure ideal temperature to sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to a series of chronic illnesses including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Taking care of breathing patterns and sleep health can help maintain overall good health. The gift of better health and productive life starts from a night of good sleep.