Do you know that your sleep schedule needs to be changed at various stages of your life? Also, do you know that how much sleep you need also varies among different individuals? Until now, you must have always known that an adult needs around 7 to 8 hours of sleep for proper rejuvenation and repair of the body. However, this is just a general piece of information that may not hold true for every individual. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle and people who perform hard core physical activities definitely don’t require the same amount of rest. In fact, as our body changes and enters different stages in life, our sleep schedule too needs change.
Adequate sleep is one of the important pillars for sound well being and not everyone knows that sleep needs differ from person to person and is mainly defined by our genes. This sleep need is the hours of sleep that you require to wake up feeling energetic and refreshed. The short sleepers are generally the people who require shorter duration of sleep than average, while there are these long sleepers, whose body takes time to repair and refill with energy and hence, they need to sleep for duration more than the average hours.
Sleep Required At Different Stages In Life
The average amount of sleep required keeps on changing throughout the lifetime and despite these averages, there are individuals who may require more or less than these average needs:-
- Infants between 3 to 11 months of age – 14 to 15 hours
- Toddlers between 12 to 35 months of age – 12 to 14 hours
- Pre-schoolers between 3 to 6 years of age – 11 to 13 hours
- School going children between 6 to 12 years of age – 10 to 12 hours
- Teenagers between 13 to 19 years of age – 9 to 11 hours
- Adults require an average sleep of 8 hours
- Elderly adults may however, require lesser sleep
But what happens when our sleep needs are not being met. Studies reveal that by not getting enough rest, our body tends to pile up sleep debt, which must be settled soon. If we sleep less than what is required to feel energetic, then as immediate adverse effects, you may encounter the following symptoms:-
- Sleepiness during the day
- Fatigue & lethargic feeling
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Greater risk of causing accidents while driving
- Disruption in digestion and metabolic activities
Long Term Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
Increasing dependence on technological devices, mounting stress levels, working till late at night, etc. are some of the major reasons for sleep deprivation. Inadequacy of required sleep for prolonged period of time can impact your health, productivity, mood, etc. Here are some of the most common effects of sleep deprivation –
1. Poor Concentration, Reduced Decision Making Skills & Difficulty In Memorising
Sleep deprivation can have serious impact on your judgement skills and causes problems in forward part of the brain known as the frontal lobe, which gets involved in critical thinking. Decreased ability to concentrate, memorise and making poor choices along with inability to maintain interpersonal relationships can be some of the possible outcomes of sleep deprivation.
2. Neurologic Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
Drinking excessive alcohol and getting succumbed to sleep deprivation can have similar impact in a way that you may experience distorted speech along with uncontrolled reflexive movements of eyes. Chances are high that you may even develop shakiness in your hands. Some people develop more prominent droopiness in their eyelids. Increased sensitivity to pain and heat along with night time heartburn are some of the common effects of sleep deprivation.
3. Prone To Accidents
Studies suggest that sleep deprived people are at a higher risk of causing accidents as inadequacy of sleep affects the hand to eye coordination and responsiveness to stimuli. Researchers even reveal that driving while being sleep deprived can be as dangerous as driving while being under influence of alcohol.
4. Hormonal Changes
Secretion of hormones from the endocrine glands can be severely impacted by sleep deprivation. Researchers have studied that lack of sleep also affects the activity of the thyroid gland as the increased energy requirements due to staying awake puts pressure on the thyroid gland to work more. Cortisol, adrenaline, follicle, testosterone, progesterone, etc. are some of the other hormones that behave distinctly due to insufficiency of sleep.
5. Weight Gain
The risk of obesity is greater in adults as well as children due to sleep deprivation. While hormonal changes are bound to occur due to inadequacy of sleep, the changes in metabolic activities can result in unintended weight gain and may even cause obesity, which further invites other health issues.
6. Stunts Growth In Children
When growing children suffer from sleep deprivation, then the growth hormones which are secreted at different sleep stages in night, causes disruption in the way they grow. Lack of sleep in children can stunt the growth of brain, affect cognitive abilities, impact development of their body physically and may even impact their immunity and metabolism level.
Determine Your Sleep Needs Now
After reading these facts about the most ignored aspect of healthy living, it is time to know how much sleep you really need. Follow these easy steps and strictly adhere to determine your apt sleep schedule:-
1. Start focusing on your sleep by setting aside a week or two and strictly abstain from allowing anything that can affect your sleep schedule.
2. Select the most comfortable time for sleep, which must be at least two hours after you have dinner and stick with this time for this set week.
3. Sleep tight for as long as you want and wake up in the morning without an alarm clock.
4. After following this routine for a week or so, you will pay off your sleep debt and your body will start getting accustomed to sleeping and getting awake at the same time, thus you get understand how much sleep you need.
5. Once you determine the required amount of sleep, set your bedtime accordingly and try to lead a stress free lifestyle while ensuring that you don’t try to sleep while watching television or using smartphone.