How Much Sleep Do We Need

Despite what some might think, the number of hours one needs for a restful night’s sleep varies widely from person to person. Keeping this variability in mind, medical researchers have developed useful general sleep guidelines. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), children between the age of six and 13 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night. From ages 14 through 17 should generally receive eight to 10 hours of nightly sleep. Adults should sleep for anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per night. A multi-disciplinary panel of scientific experts, the NSF made minor changes to its sleep guidelines in 2015. At that time, the NSF was chaired by Charles Czeisler, formerly of the Harvard Medical School. The NSF bases its recommendations on vigorous study of all legitimate, sleep-related scientific literature that is published worldwide.

The NSF’s sleep guidelines provide a fine starting point for people who are concerned about establishing positive sleep patterns. To determine exactly what levels of sleep they need, people should conduct personal experiments. Faithfully keeping a sleep journal is one way to determine whether you need to increase or decrease your sleep levels. While lack of sleep is widely recognized as a major problem in modern life, many don’t realize that oversleeping is also firmly associated with a variety of health problems. In many cases, oversleeping is a warning sign of depression or social anxiety. Not getting the right amount of sleep is statistically associated with increased risk for heart disease, obesity and even premature death.

Whatever your intentions, it is surprisingly easy to find yourself stuck in a routine of missing needed hours of sleep. The first thing you should do to improve your sleep habits is to ban all blue light after your predetermined bedtime. This is the type of light emitted by electronic devices and energy-efficient light bulbs. Researchers have shown how blue light can confuse your internal clock and make it difficult for your body’s natural winding-down process to begin. If you want to feel sleepy at your appropriate bedtime, stop using televisions, tablets, computers and phones at the magic hour. Whatever important things you do online, these things can wait while you give your body the rest and recuperation it richly deserves.