Sleep…. Too much or Too little?
Think about it. We always consciously ask this question to ourselves, every morning when we wake up from the bed…. Have I had a good sleep last night? ..
When you wake up in the morning, I bet you would think about the sleep you had and either be satisfied about the good night’s sleep or a little annoyed about the reason why your sleep was disturbed.
We feel the inadequacy of the sleep both biologically and also psychologically. Part of the psychological dissatisfaction comes from our certainity or uncertainy about how much sleep do we really need every day.
Purpose of sleep :
Many of us assume that brain goes to complete rest while we sleep. It is absolutely untrue. Brain is buzzing with activity while we doze off. Our brain actively analyses, processes and reorganises the datas created from of our day time busy activities.
The purpose of sleep are largely unknown.These are some of it
Scavenging : Cleansing of the metabolic wastes created by intense brain activity when we are awake. We all feel rotten after a poor night’s sleep. We also know that sleep is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. Metabolic diseases such as Diabetes and Hypertension could also be triggered by poor sleep, in the long run
Memory consolidation : Sleep help hit the reset button on brain’s synapses (junction boxes) and keep our memory better organised. We know that our ability to recall what happened in the past is much better, after a good sleep..
How much sleep do we need?
Is 8 hours as the magic number for a decent night’s sleep?
Lots of uncertainity still remains on attempting to quantify how much sleep do we need to remain healthy.
Factors that decide the amount of sleep that an individual requires
Researches have shown that the amount of sleep we need is determined by our Genes, our Environment and variability among Individuals.
We must be aware of the fact that the amount of sleep you need changes as you become older. About 7 hours of sleep seems to be reasonable for adults. Recommended hours of sleep for children is much higher.
Just check out your requirement from this chart from National Sleep Foundation (USA)
A summary of the new recommendations from National sleep Foundation
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hour
While giving yourself more time to doze off can be good for your health, beware !!! you cant have too much of a good thing. “
Regularly getting 8 hours or more could have serious consequences. Unfortunately we human are hard wired to be lazy. Our default position as a human is to sit on the sofa or perhaps take a nap if given an opportunity. People would die early if they indulge in too much of sleep. The association of too much of sleep and early mortality is strong, “often stronger, than the association of short sleep with mortality”. We simply do not why that is the case.It could boil down to the downside of sleep : “The prolonged inactivity”.
So how much is enough for me? My rule of thumb is that I shouldn’t need an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. It is about 6 hours. I am fine with it. So take your pick.. 6 or 7 hours