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How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need?

Why Sleep is Important

Sleep is essential for good health and well-being throughout your entire life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right time can help protect your physical and mental health, improve your quality of life, and even keep you safe.

The way you feel when you are awake is due in large part to how well you sleep. The body performs many vital functions as you sleep, such as supporting brain function and maintaining physical health. Sleep also supports growth and development in children and teenagers.

Lack of quality sleep can cause immediate damage, such as contributing to drowsy driving and the potential for a car crash, or long-term damage to the brain and body. The National Institutes of Health says that ongoing sleep deficiency can increase the risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke. It also increases the risk of obesity, and negatively affects how you think, react, learn, behave, and get along with others.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The amount of sleep you need changes throughout the course of your lifetime.

Newborns should sleep 14 to 17 hours a day, according to the National Sleep Foundation, while kids in preschool should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep daily. School-aged children should aim for 9 to 11 hours per day and teens should get 8 to 10 hours. Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day. Older adults can get by on a little less – about 7 to 8 hours every day.

Tips for Better Sleep

Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. These habits tell your body that it is time to go to sleep.

Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.

Cut down on caffeinated beverages, especially in the afternoon and evening. Reduce alcohol intake; while alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it disrupts sleep cycles in ways that can cause you to wake up more often.

Avoid large meals just before bed, especially fatty, fried, or spicy foods that can upset your stomach.

Exercise every day. Regular exercise helps you burn off excess energy that might otherwise keep you awake.

Talk to your doctor or sleep specialist about more ways to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. These healthcare professionals can determine if a medical problem, such as sleep apnea, is interfering with your sleep. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 770.730.0119 today to make an appointment with Virtual Imaging.

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