While many of the mysteries surrounding sleep have yet to be unravelled, it is widely accepted that sleep plays an essential role in maintaining overall health. We spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping. It is a human need, much like eating and drinking, and good quality sleep is has a direct impact on our quality of life and is critical for day-to-day functioning.
For some, a good night’s rest is something one can only dream about, yet the reality is that many of us don’t get enough sleep. Statistics from World Sleep Day indicate that up to 45% of the world’s population suffers from sleep problems, a global epidemic that holds serious implications over our health and quality of life. Despite the fact that more men, women and children from around the world are spending their nights tossing and turning, less than one-third of sufferers seek professional help. The good news is that most sleep disorders are treatable and preventable. But just how much sleep do you need? And are you getting enough?
How much sleep do you need?
Experts recommend at least 7 hours of sleep each night for those who are 18-60 years old. While adults should ideally average between 7-9 hours of sleep, young children and teens need to clock in as much as 8-10 hours each night. If you’re spending less than 6 hours in dreamland each night, it could have a significant negative impact on your health in both the long and short term.
We’ve gathered all the facts below, so you can find out the benefits and drawbacks related to the amount of time you spend sleeping.
If you sleep between 7-9 hours each night:
- A full night’s sleep without any interruptions boosts your immune system, which means that you’re less likely to get sick, and will recover faster if you do. People who regularly get enough sleep experience lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and other chronic diseases.
- Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis allows your body and mind sufficient time to rest and recuperate. This improves your mood and overall sense of wellbeing, and ensures that you function at your optimum at work, when playing complex games at a casino, or when simply going about your day-to-day business.
- During deep sleep, your brain captures newly acquired information and consolidates memories while you are dreaming. By resting long enough and allowing your brain to move naturally through the different stages of sleep, you may improve your memory and perform better in recall tasks.
- Deep sleep, the stage that comes only after a full cycle, is essential for the body’s release of hormones that are designed to repair and build tissue in the body and brain.
- Your ability to be creative, pay attention, be decisive and solve problems directly relates to a good night’s sleep.
- Studies indicate that getting a good night’s sleep can increase your libido and make it more likely that you’ll have sex.
If you get less than 6 hours of sleep each night:
- One lab-based study found that individuals who slept less than 6 hours a night for two consecutive weeks functioned equally as poorly on cognitive and reflex tests as those who pulled two all-nighters.
- Chronic lack of sleep is linked to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, obesity, decreased libido, mood swings, depression, paranoia, as well as an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia.
- Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your attention span, ability to learn and memory recall.
- If you are severely sleep-starved you’re more likely to be stressed, irritable, anxious and depressed.
How to get a better night’s sleep:
- Go to bed at the same time every night- even on the weekends.
- Establish a calming bedtime routine, allowing yourself time to unwind.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dimly lit and noise free.
Avoid rich heavy meals, alcohol and cigarettes before you go sleep.