Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Time to Sleep - The Need to Sleep

While you may have heard some people talk about their work ethics and how they don't sleep - as if it's badge of honor, the truth is a lack of sleep can lead to a decline in your overall health and wellness. Yes, I have heard it all, "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and the lack of sleep might just make that sleep time come a little sooner.

According to the National Institute of Health, the amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age. Infants generally require about 16 hours a day, while teenagers need about 9 hours on average. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. Women in the first 3 months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days. Getting too little sleep creates a "sleep debt," which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid. We don't seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need; while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.

People tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans as they get older, although they generally need about the same amount of sleep as they needed in early adulthood. About half of all people over 65 have frequent sleeping problems, such as insomnia, and deep sleep stages in many elderly people often become very short or stop completely. This change may be a normal part of aging, or it may result from medical problems that are common in elderly people and from the medications and other treatments for those problems. There are many studies that indicates that a lack of sleep is dangerous. Furthermore, experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven't had enough sleep. If you routinely fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, you probably have severe sleep deprivation, possibly even a sleep disorder.

Here is an interesting discussion moderated by Alana B. Elias Kornfeld at the Forum at the Harvard School of Public Health:

For everything on sleep --> The National Sleep Foundation

Everyone needs sleep

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