For many of us, sleep is the sweet balm that soothes and restores us after a long day of work and play. It is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. Sleep is a heightened anabolic state, accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems.
A healthy adult requires 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep daily to be able to function best throughout the day.
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
7.5 – 9 hrs
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. Just because you’re able to operate on seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed.
The best way to figure out if you’re meeting your sleep needs is to evaluate how you feel as you go about your day. If you’re logging enough hours, you’ll feel energetic and alert all day long, from the moment you wake up until your regular bedtime.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.
The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.
The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep either because of reduced total sleep time or fragmentation of sleep by brief arousals, it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function. Acute sleep deprivation refers to no sleep or a reduction in the usual total sleep time, usually lasting one or two days.
There are many causes of sleep deprivation, voluntary or involuntary;
– The stresses of daily life may intrude upon our ability to sleep well, or perhaps we trade sleep for more work or play.
– We may have medical or mental health conditions that disrupt our sleep, and be well aware that we are sleep deprived.
– Most people actually think they are training their body systems by reducing the amount of hours they sleep. This is actually not true; depriving your body of optimum sleep significantly affects your health, performance and safety.
Generally sleep deprivation may result in;
- Aching muscle
- Confusion, memory lapses or loss
- Hand tremor
- Sensitivity to cold
- Bags under eyes
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased stress hormone levels
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of fibromyalgia (Chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure)
- Rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement
- Temper tantrums in children
- Constant yawning
- Symptoms similar to:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- One of the possible side effects of a continued lack of sleep is death. Usually this is the result of the fact that the immune system is weakened without sleep.
Some people use the following strategies to cope, but this may provide short term benefit to reduce the effects of sleep deprivation. They are not long term solution, however and they may not restore alertness and performance to non-sleep deprived levels;
- Sleep prior to deprivation
- Naps during deprivation
- Caffeine and a nap
- Other stimulants
The only sure way for an individual to overcome sleep deprivation is to increase nightly sleep time to satisfy his or her biological sleep need; there is no substitute for sufficient sleep.
It is advisable to see your healthcare professional when you realize that you are not getting enough sleep (which could be as a result of an underlying health issue) or not well rested despite the recommended hours of sleep. There are sleep aids and medications that could help relax you and they include;
Contains a blend of natural herbs to soothe and so aid restful sleep.
Nytol (one-A-Night) and Sominex tablets are for temporary/ short-term relief only