We all know sleep is very important to our physical, mental and emotional well being and the average human being spends around 1/3 of their lives asleep. But, with busier lives and more hectic schedules, many of us are not getting the recommended amount of sleep we need to be functioning at our best.
Why is Sleep so Important?
Whilst we can all cope with the odd late night or getting just a few hours of sleep occasionally, a continuous lack of sleep can actually be very dangerous and lead to a build up of 'sleep debt'.
A continual lack of sleep can lead to many problems including:
- Lack of concentration
- Higher risk of injury
- Disruption of immune system
- Higher risk of obesity
- Mood disorders such as depression or anxiety
- Decreased fertility
- Decreased sex drive
- Increased heart rate and risk of heart problems
How much sleep should we be getting per night?
There are lots of conflicting reports on how much sleep we should be getting and research from the National Sleep Foundation suggests that our optimum amount of sleep actually greatly depends on age.
The National Sleep foundation suggest that babies and toddlers, for example, need anything between 12-17 hours per day!
On the other end of the spectrum, it is reported that ‘Older Adults’ (65+) need around 7-8 hours.
They also report that Teenagers (14-17) may not just be ‘lazy’ and do, in fact, need 8-10 hours per day, compared to Adults (18-65) who need slightly less at 7-9 hours.
Of course, these recommendations are generalised and each individual may need different amounts of sleep. The NHS state that:
“As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to have a nap, it's likely that you're not getting enough sleep.”