Human, as well as animals, really need to sleep to survive beside food, water and oxygen in the air. In details, a good sleep can help us to improve our health, bring us comfort and work efficiently. However, just a few of us actually spend enough time on sleeping every day.
We may be forced to cut back on sleeping hours to meet the demands of a busy schedule. A lot of people think that this can help to improve their productivity because they will be able to get more done. But the truth is that even minimal sleep loss has significant influence on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. Then over the long term, chronic sleep loss will wreak havoc on your health.
Is too much sleep good for your health?
Although sacrificing an hour or two of rest can result in some serious consequences, it has been proved that sleeping too much is also harmful to our health. Studies have linked excessive sleep to many risks ranging from depression to other medical problems. For examples, they can be diabetes, obesity, headaches, back pains or even stroke, just to name a few.
How much is enough?
So, how much sleep do we need for a good health? What is the most ideal number for sleeping hours?
The fact is that all of us have different bodies from each other, therefore, the amount of sleep you need will vary significantly over the course of your lifetime. Actually, it may depend on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits. For example, you will feel an increased need for sleep during periods of stress. But, children are usually encouraged to spend more hours on sleeping per day.
However, despite of this difference, experts typically recommend that those who are 18 and above should sleep about 7 or 8 hours per night. Additionally, children had better sleep around 10 hours or more. Belows are some ideal amount of time that people at different ages should spend on sleeping:
Average Sleep Needs by Age
- Newborn to 2 months old 12 – 18 hrs
- 3 months to 1 year old 14 – 15 hrs
- 1 to 3 years old 12 – 14 hrs
- 3 to 5 years old 11 – 13 hrs
- 5 to 12 years old 10 – 11 hrs
- 12 to 18 years old 8.5 – 10 hrs
- Adults (18+) 7.5 – 9 hrs
Ideal amount of time for sleeping according to the US National Institutes of Health (Source: helpguide.org)
What do experts say?
Looking at the above number, you can see that our sleep needs decrease with age. However, older people still need at least 7.5 hours to sleep every day. Of course, if you have troubles sleeping this long at night, you can make it up by taking short naps during the daytime. But anyway, you had better spend most of your sleeping time at night because it would be better for your health.
There is an important thing that you should remember. There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you have to follow as an optimum choice. For instance, children at the age of six to nine need 9 to 11 hours but can still sleep within 7 or 8 hours. Similarly, teenagers need about 8 to 10 hours for sleeping, but they would still be fine with 7 hours.
Nowadays, a majority of people, especially teenagers, spend more than 11 hours on sleeping every day. This is mostly because they often stay up late at night and try to make it up in the morning. Scientists have proved that the circadian rhythm of teenagers naturally shifts to make them feel sleepy later at night and then wake up later the following day.
Generally, this is a normal phenomenon and not quite related to social media addiction. However, teenagers should still try to get enough sleep on a daily basis and avoid building sleep debts to pay off at the weekend. Why? Because they will never be able to fully make it up.
For adults, those who are 18 to 64, the most ideal sleeping time is between 7.5 and 9 hours per night, but some cope on six. For people at the age of 65 and above, the recommended time is 7 to 8 hours, but usually most of them will only sleep in about 5 hours a night.
So, how can we know whether we are spending enough time to sleep or not? The best way to figure out this is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you feel really energetic and alert all day long, it means that you have slept enough. On the other hand, if you feel tired and cannot focus on your work during the day, you may need to change your sleeping habits immediately.
In general, sleeping enough is very important, not only to your health but also to your work productivity. You should arrange your timetable to have a reasonable amount of time for sleeping every day. If you cannot do this because of your job or daily routine, go to your doctor.
Even if you sleep more than 8 hours per night but still cannot feel relaxed, you should ask your doctor too because you may have a sleep disorder or other health problem. Ensure to sleep enough and at the right time!