The quality and duration of your sleep is incredibly important, as it directly affects nearly every aspect of your waking life. Your emotional, mental, and physical health are all impacted by your sleeping patterns. Even things such as the quality of your productivity, weight, brain and heart health, creativity, and immune system all depend upon the amount of sleep you get. Without a proper and regulated sleep schedule, it is likely that you will notice a decline in your mood and health. Read on to find out how much sleep is optimal to stay healthy and happy.
Why is Sleep So Important?
In the same way humans need food, water, and air to survive, we also need sleep. In fact, the average human spends around one third of their entire life sleeping. While this seems to be an incredibly long time, many important biological processes occur while you are sleeping that work to keep you healthy and mentally sharp.
Sleeping gives your brain the opportunity to reorganize and repair your nerves and cells, store new information, and restore energy. Without these processes and many more, your body would be unable to function properly. Energy is conserved, and your cells are restored.
Other functions that occur while sleeping that are less widely known include tissue growth, hormone release, muscle repair, and protein synthesis. Sleep also allows the brain to work and function properly due to the fact that it gives your brain the opportunity to clear toxic materials from your brain and reorganize its neurons. These functions, which occur during sleep, help keep your body operating at its best during your waking hours.
Research that has been done on the purpose of sleep suggests that it also contributes to the function of your memory. When you are sleeping, your brain converts the short term memories you have gathered during the day into long term memories. Your brain also clears itself of any information that it considers “unneeded” or that may clutter your nervous system. These things improve and enable problem solving skills, focus and concentration, learning, memory, decision making, and creativity.
Emotional Well Being
In addition to physical health and mental sharpness, sleep also contributes to your emotional well being. While many joke about “waking up on the wrong side of the bed,” which means being grumpy or in a bad mood, unhappiness that has to do with sleep does not come from waking up on the wrong side of the bed, but rather comes from not sleeping enough or at all. This is due to the fact that your brain becomes more active in areas that support and regulate emotion while you are sleeping.
An area of the brain called the amygdala becomes more adaptive and responsive after a night of optimal sleep. This is important because the amygdala controls your response to fear. Without your amygdala functioning properly, your brain is much more likely to overreact to situations that it perceives as frightening. While many only focus on the aspect of sleep that has to do with energy conservation and restoration, the benefits of a healthy and regulated sleep schedule go much further than that.
Lack of Sleep Issues
While a healthy and regulated sleep schedule is crucial to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally sharp, this is not always as easy as it sounds. Many physical and emotional issues can cause sleep disturbances. Sickness, travel, or stress are common reasons why you may be experiencing an interruption in your sleep schedule, and this can happen to any average, healthy person.
However, regularly occurring sleep disturbances are often due to a sleep disorder. These sleep disorders are very serious and can wreak havoc on nearly all areas of your life if they are ignored or left untreated. Some of the things that can happen as a result of sleep deprivation are weight gain, memory issues, and strained relationships. Sleep deprivation can even lead to much more serious issues such as impaired job performance and car accidents. Two of the most common sleep disorders are sleep apnea and insomnia.
Insomnia is easily the best known sleep disorder, and around ten percent of the general population experience sleep disturbances intense enough to be consistent with an insomnia diagnosis. Insomnia can be caused by many things, including medication, coffee, depression or anxiety, health conditions, jet lag, or stress. If you suffer from insomnia, there is a high chance it can be cured by something as simple as learning to relax, or managing to revise and improve your daytime habits and sleep hygiene. However, if this does not work, both prescription and over the counter sleeping pills can often aid in helping you fall asleep.
Sleep apnea is another common sleep disorder, which is also treatable. This sleeping disorder is characterized by your breathing, which temporarily and frequently stops during sleep. This causes you to wake up, often many times during the night, despite the fact that you may not remember it when you wake up in the morning. However, you will still experience many symptoms of sleep deprivation, including depression, exhaustion, and irritability. While it is both common and treatable, sleep apnea is incredibly serious and can even be life threatening. If you are dealing with this sleep disorder, it is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need?
While it can be hard to keep up with a regulated and healthy sleep schedule, the first step is to know how many hours of sleep per night is recommended to stay physically healthy, mentally sharp, and emotionally stable. The recommended amount of sleep per night depends on your age. The older you are, the less sleep you commonly need to function properly
For infants that are between birth and three months old, a whopping fourteen to seventeen hours of sleep is recommended. This is unsurprising, since babies commonly seem to be sleeping most of the day. Between four months and one year old, children need twelve to sixteen hours of sleep per day. However, this includes naps during waking hours.
Toddlers between the ages of one and two years old need a recommended eleven to fourteen hours of sleep per day, which also includes naps. Moving down slightly, toddlers between three and five years old require ten to thirteen hours of sleep per day, also including naps. Moving from childhood to adolescence, children between the ages of six and twelve years old require a recommended nine to twelve hours of sleep per night. Adolescents between the ages of thirteen and eighteen require between eight and ten hours of sleep per night. However, because of the demands of school, many adolescents do not fulfill this requirement and suffer mental and emotional issues due to this.
Between the very broad age gap of eighteen and sixty years old, adults require seven or more hours of sleep per night to function properly. Between the ages of sixty one and sixty four, around seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended. And, for seniors above the age of sixty five, around seven to eight hours of sleep is required. However, many seniors wake up during the night, so daytime naps are effective in remedying this.
Why You Should Keep a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Sleep has many benefits, and neglecting to keep up with a regulated and proper sleep schedule can wreak havoc in your daily life. Whether it is due to work or school, stress, travel, or any other of the many factors that may be causing you to sleep less than is healthy, it is important to remember that sleeping is crucial to stay physically healthy, mentally sharp, and emotionally stable. Building good daytime habits and sleep hygiene are important to have a good night’s sleep.
Keep in mind that sleep gives your brain the opportunity to perform many important functions and processes that benefit you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Tissue growth, hormone release, muscle repair, and protein synthesis are all things that take place while you are sleeping, which help keep your body in working condition for waking hours. Problem solving skills, focus and concentration, learning, memory, decision making, and creativity are all heavily dependent on the amount of sleep you get. Without a proper amount of sleep, these skills are devastatingly impaired, and your productivity during waking hours in school or work suffers majorly. In addition to this, a proper and healthy amount of sleep also supports emotional stability by helping to keep you from being irritable or flighty, as humans’ response to fear directly correlates with how much sleep they get.
Overall, getting the proper amount of sleep per night is one of the best things you can do to keep your body working at its full potential during waking hours. In order to stay productive, happy, and healthy, make sure you get the recommended amount of sleep per night for your age bracket.