The amount of sleep that a person requires varies as they age. Newborn babies, for example, require anywhere from 12 to 18 hours of sleep per day. While an adult can manage on only 7 hours. There are several factors that affect the number of hours you need on a regular basis, this article will discuss some of these.
The biggest thing to understand is that there is no magic number when it comes to sleep. Sleep patterns are as individual as your personality. The quality of your sleep is often more important than the actual number of hours.
There are two basic principles that pertain to sleep:
- Basal Sleep
- Sleep Debt
Basal sleep is the amount of sleep required by your body to keep your body functioning at an optimal point. Sleep Debt is the number of hours you lose due to either poor sleeping habits, sickness, or other problems that keep you awake.
Studies show that most adults need between 7 to 8 hours of basal sleep per night. Sleep Debt is connected to those times when you are feeling sleepy and tired, even if you just slept for 7 hours.
What this research suggests is that your body needs to catch up to your sleep debt numbers. Depending on how sleep deprived you are, this may take several nights of sleeping for 7 hours or more to catch up on.
Your mood and energy levels are a good indication of sleep deprivation. People who do not sleep enough are at more risk of being involved in a car accident, are at risk for heart disease and diabetes. Plus, many people find that they gain weight when they do not sleep enough for long periods of time.
The best way to determine just how much sleep you require is to pay attention to your body. Note things such as what kind of mood you are in, are you feeling more hungry than usual and how much energy you have.
Pay attention to how many nights per week that you do get enough sleep. If this number is low, then you may want to look at your sleep habits and make some changes.
Quite often having a warm bath or shower before going to bed can make a huge difference. As can not drinking coffee or alcohol too close to bedtime.
After noting your sleep habits for a few weeks, you should be able to determine just how much sleep your body actually requires.
How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?
Some people complain that they are tired after ten hours of sleep, while others seem to manage fine every day after just five hours. So, what causes this difference in sleep patterns and quantity, and how do you know how much sleep you need? The amount of sleep you need depends on several factors, so we’ll consider some of the most common in order to help you work out how much sleep you really need.
This is one of the main factors influencing how much sleep you need. Children and young adults tend to need a lot more sleep than adults and older people. School children often need as much as 12 hours of sleep, with young children needing as much as 14 hours per night. You may have found that you need less sleep as you get older.
If you’re suffering from ill health, you may feel that you want to spend extra time in bed. This is normal, and in many cases your body needs extra rest in order to recover. If you are experiencing short periods of illness, you should allow your body this extra sleep in order to get better. However, if you have a long-term health condition, you should speak to your doctor about how best to manage the amount of sleep you need, and also ensure any work you do is able to accommodate your extra sleep.
As well as physical health issues, mental health issues can also mean that you need extra sleep. Mental health conditions, such as long-term depression, can make people feel very tired and fatigued almost all of the time, which impacts the quality of sleep and the quantity needed.
Depending on the job you have, you may need to get a couple of extra hours sleep into your routine every night. These jobs are often physically tiring jobs such as a labourer or athlete; however, jobs which are mentally tiring can also mean you need some extra sleep. Getting into a good routine with your sleep pattern can make it easier to get the right amount of sleep that you need.
Ultimately, the amount of sleep that you need depends on many different factors, so each person should consider themselves and their own needs individually. Speak to your doctor if you are having long-term troubles with sleep or you feel that other factors are influencing your ability to sleep.
What is A Good Sleep Pattern?
We all talk about our sleep patterns – we have an erratic sleep pattern, a good sleep pattern, an irregular sleep pattern…or one which seems to change all the time. But what does it mean to have a good sleep pattern and how can you get into this habit? There are some things which are characteristics of a good sleep pattern. Let’s consider more about sleep patterns and what makes them good and bad for our health and wellbeing.
Falling asleep in less than an hour
If you have a routine where you can get into bed and fall asleep in less than an hour, and preferably less than 30 minutes, this is one of the things which creates a good sleep pattern. This means that each night, if you want to sleep at 11pm, you can get in bed at 10pm and know that you’ll be asleep in time. This is important for planning your routine and taking away any stress you might feel about getting enough sleep.
Waking up no more than once or twice
While many other things can be great about your sleeping pattern, waking up in the middle of the night is rarely welcome. However, many of us experience disruptions in the night and wake up unintentionally. This disruption in sleep can make all the difference between having a good night’s sleep and a bad night’s sleep. Waking up once in the night is not considered an indication of a poor sleep pattern, but if it happens continually, it might be worth a visit to your doctor.
Being asleep for most of the time
If you’re asleep for more than 80% of the time you’re in bed, your sleep pattern is going well. Of course, everybody wants to be asleep for 100% of the time they are in bed (or as close as possible), but in reality, most of us will sleep for 70-80% of the time. When calculating how long you spend asleep, you should also include the time you spend waking up in the middle of the night (if this happens to you).
Staying asleep after falling asleep
A common sign of a bad sleep pattern is waking up almost as soon as you have fallen asleep. This is often very frustrating for those who experience it, especially those who already have difficulties falling asleep in the first place.
The Signs of Sleep Deprivation
If you are not just getting enough sleep your body eventually starts showing outward signs. One of the first signs of being deprived of your sleep is feeling tired during the day.
Another sign is if you are able to lie down in the evening and fall asleep in 5 minutes or less. While many people think this is great, being able to fall asleep so quickly. It often means that you are lacking in sleep big time!
Microsleeps is a condition where you experience short bursts of sleep in a person that is asleep. These short bursts are extremely short, we are talking a fraction of a second or up to 30 seconds at a time. You may feel as though you don't know what just happened or that you weren't really there for that brief time.
Many people who are deprived of sleep often find that alcohol really affects them. They are more susceptible to feeling the effects of drinking more than when you are well rested.
If you turn to drinking caffeine beverages and other types of drinks to keep you awake products, you will find that they do not work very well for you. This is because your Sleep Debt is so high.
Sleep Debt is the number of hours of sleep your body is lacking due to not sleeping enough. This number actually increases each night you do not sleep properly. On the good side you can reduce your Sleep Debt numbers and catch up and restore your sleep patterns.
Other symptoms of sleep deprivation include snoring, suffering with leg cramps or experiencing those tingly feelings. You may find that your breathing changes when you are asleep. You feel as though you cannot breathe properly.
Insomnia is where you spend more hours awake than asleep and if you are dealing with this, then you should really seek advice from your doctor. It can be helpful to start a sleep journal or diary. This way you can track when you experience a good night's sleep and when you just can't sleep. Professionals recommend keeping a diary for a two-week period, this way you can get a good overview of how well you are, or are not, sleeping.
The best advice for anyone who is having trouble sleeping is to get help and advice. If you do not your health can really be affected, and you could end up with a serious health concern.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.