Sleep protects our physical and mental health and insufficient sleep is the cause of some serious health problems including strokes, high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, diabetes, dementia and occular problems.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a killer. Imagine holding your breath for 10 to 30 seconds 30 times in one hour. How much sleep would you get? How much oxygen would be passing to your brain?
“Sleep is important for mental function, alertness, memory consolidation, mood regulation and physical health,” says Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The amount of sleep that a person needs to stay healthy, alert and active depends on their age and will vary from one person to another, but there are now some recognized guidelines.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) evaluated 300 studies and recently released an age-based sleep recommendation scale.
Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours of sleep
Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours of sleep
Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours of sleep
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours of sleep
School-agers (6 to 13): 9 to 11 hours of sleep
Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours of sleep
Young adults (18 to 25 years): 7 to 9 hours of sleep
Adults (26 to 64 years): 7 to 9 hours of sleep
Older adults (65 years +): 7 to 8 hours of sleep
Women often sleep more than men and their sleep is lighter and more easily disrupted. Pregnancy and hormonal changes related to menopause influence sleep health. Traditionally, tending to babies and children was “the woman’s job” but today the modern man shares those nocturnal duties.
Other Factors that Disrupt Sleep
Depression, stress, arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle pain, epilepsy, heart disease and substance abuse. Restless Leg Syndrome is another sleep disrupter.