No matter our age, we all need sleep. The amount of and quality of sleep we get dictates how we feel throughout the day and how productive we are. It also is crucial to good health and can especially have an impact on heart and cardio health. Quality sleep is, even more, important to those dealing with chronic illness and pain management issues.
Though there are defined guidelines from the National Institute of Sleep, the amount of sleep an individual needs is very personal. It is determined partially by genetics, but also, by health and the quality of sleep received. Another thing to remember is that all sleep counts. If you fall asleep for an hour watching a movie in the afternoon, that time counts towards your total sleep for the day.
Hours of sleep needed by age group in a 24 hour period, according to the National Institute of Sleep:
• Newborns- 0-3 months -14-17 hours- At the 2 AM feeding it may not seem like they sleep this much, but they typically do.
• Infants- 4-11 months- 12-15 hours
• Toddlers- 1-2 years- 11-14 hours
• Pre-school 3-5 years – 10-13 hours
• School-age children 6-12 years- 9-11 hours
• Teen- 13-17 years – 8-10 hours-Teens are not getting sufficient sleep will typically be those wanting to spend the weekend day in bed.
• Young adults- 18-25 years- 7-9 hours
• Adults-26-64 years-7-9 hours
• Older adults 65+ -7-8 hours
Signs you are sleep deficient:
• Not productive during the day
• Overweight or gaining weight
• Caffeine is needed to make it through the day
• Sleepy when driving
Stages of sleep:
• Rem-Dream phase- If you wake up and remember your dreams in detail, it may explain why you are still exhausted. We all dream, but if you are not getting adequate sleep past this stage, you may be sleep deficient.
• Stage 1 – Dozing- Little restoration- That power nap may help a little, but it is not the same as a good night of sleep.
• Stage 2-Middle sleep –good restoration qualities- This is the quality of sleep we need to function properly.
• Stage 3- Slow wave deep sleep- very restorative-Unfortunately as we age, sleep quality is another thing that deteriorates. Those over 65 will typically experience this stage of sleep.
Besides age and health, gender also plays a part in our sleep needs and quality of sleep. In general, men have more problems with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome as they age, but women have the complications of pregnancy and menopause. If you have any sleep disorder, you should, of course, contact a healthcare professional.
Prepare for a good night’s sleep:
Even after an exhausting day, sleep doesn’t come quickly for all of us. There are steps you can take, however, to ensure the best night’s sleep possible.
• Stay on a schedule
• Have a bedtime ritual such as a hot bath or reading
• Exercise daily
• Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows
• Turn off the television
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
If you are suffering from occasional or mild insomnia, there are additional things you can try such as teas with Chamomile and Valerian root, recorded sleep aids, and occasionally, a mild over the counter sleep aid. If you continue to have problems with your sleep patterns, it may be time to see a doctor about prescribed medication or testing for a sleep disorder.