Everybody loves a good night sleep. It’s a natural part of the body’s daily cycle. After a good night of sleep, you are rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. Your mind is clear and you have the mental capacity to make good decisions.
But how much sleep is enough? Can I get too much sleep? These are questions that researchers and scientists have tried to answer for years. They have done sleep studies and asked thousands of people about their sleep habits. That data has been studied and debated. They don’t disagree that the proper amount of sleep is required for optimal health. You can suffer from diabetes, heart conditions, strokes and high blood pressure from a lack of sleep. The exact amount can be open to interpretation.
There is much agreement, however. Scientists know that sleep requirements vary during different stages of life. A young child, for example, needs more sleep than a middle aged-adult. An elderly person, however, requires more sleep than a young adult.
According to recent research by the National Sleep Foundation, newborns require between 14 and 17 hours of sleep a day and infants 12 to 15. A toddler should get 11 to 14 hours of sleep a day, and preschoolers need between 10 and 14 hours of sleep a day. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night and older adults should be getting at least eight hours of sleep.
Some studies have suggested that too much sleep can be harmful. One study stated that people who slept seven hours functioned better than people who slept eight or more. Another study appeared to show that older people’s peak performance was after seven hours of sleep.
Some researchers believe that adults sleep eight or more hours due to health problems, and not because it’s healthy. They suggest that it is wise to limit sleep to seven hours, but some people have reported feeling better after eight hours of sleep.
That has led some sleep specialists to recommend sleep based on individual needs. An insomniac might be happy with five hours of sleep, and a person who works manual labor could need eight hours of sleep. If a person feels healthy and rested after six hours, that might be how much sleep that person needs. It can be hard to place an exact amount of time that people need to sleep because people’s lifestyles and needs vary greatly.
Some of the difference in sleep habits can be attributed to cultural changes. In the 1960s, people reported getting 8.5 hours of sleep a night. Today, people are a lot more active and busy, and people report getting an average of 7.5 hours of sleep per night. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, only 65.2% of American report getting the required amount of sleep.
A sleep log might be the best way to determine the correct amount of sleep. Each morning record the time you went to bed and the time you woke up. You can also note any problems you had sleeping and the number of times you woke up. Over time, you will collect enough data and be able to determine the correct amount of sleep.
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