I’ve had a big start to the new year and I’m loathe to admit it but I’m tired!
I realised this morning that I have not gone to bed before 2am since the 2nd of January and my average bedtime has been 3am. Now this is all good and well when you can sleep all day (or is it?) but when you have two children under the age of 8 you still need to get up, if not at the same time they do (thankfully around 7am), then at least within half an hour of it. If you’d ever met my 4 year old you’d probably suggest I get up an hour before she wakes
I’ve never really needed much sleep, I’ve never been one of those, must-have-eight-hours-sleep-a-night people. In fact if I can get four to five solid hours a night I find I can function quite well for two to three months at a time before having one giant sleep-in and then starting all over again.
I started thinking today though about why it is that we sleep, what benefits we get from it and exactly how many hours of sleep it is that we really need.
Apparently studies have shown that people who get the proper amount of sleep regularly tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who sleep too few or even too many – I wonder if they also compared other lifestyle factors?
Anyway, these studies were enough to get me interested enough to find out more.
What I’ve ascertained so far:
Benefits of Sleep:
Sleep helps keep your heart healthy
A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
Sleep reduces stress
A good night’s sleep can help lower blood pressure and elevated levels of stress hormones, which have become a natural result of today’s fast paced lifestyle, think the flight or flight syndrome.
“Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure,” Dr. Jean Co-Director, Critical Care Medicine, Roosevelt says. “It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.”
Sleep improves your memory
According to Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice, but something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.”
Interesting, so all that late night cramming before an exam may actually be doing you more harm than good.
Sleep helps control body weight issues
A study, performed at the University of Chicago’s General Clinical Resource Center, followed 10 overweight but healthy volunteers aged 35 to 49 with a body mass index ranging from 25 (considered overweight) to 32 (considered obese).
When dieters in the study got a full night’s sleep, they lost the same amount of weight as when they slept less. When dieters got adequate sleep, however, more than half of the weight they lost was fat. When they cut back on their sleep, only one-fourth of their weight loss came from fat.
Sleep reduces the occurrence of mood disorders
‘Not only does poor sleep put people at an increased risk of suffering from depression and anxiety, but it can also increase their chances of developing immune deficiency and heart disease,’ says Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, which published their Sleep Matters report in January this year.
‘Poor sleep can make us less receptive to positive emotions, which in turn can make us feel miserable during the day and may increase the likelihood of us developing depression,’ says Dr Dan Robotham, senior researcher at the Mental Health Foundation and lead author of their ‘Sleep Matters’ report.
These are obviously only a few of the many benefits of sleeping, but exactly how much sleep should we be getting?
I was actually surprised to see that almost all the research and information has provided very similar numbers when it comes to the amount of sleep we need:
Newborns (0-2 months) 12 – 18 hours
Infants (3 months – 1yr) 14 – 15 hours
Toddlers (1 – 3) 12 – 14 hours
Pre-schoolers (3 – 5) 11 – 13 hours
School-aged children (5 – 12) 10 – 11 hours
Pre-teens and teens (12 – 18) 8.5 – 10 hours
Adults (18+) 7.5 – 9 hours
According to the National Institute of Health while sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more (see box at right). And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap. They also make a note of saying that even though you may function well on less sleep, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a whole lot better and get more done if you got an extra hour or two more sleep (oops!)
There you go, it looks like there may be a reason I’m tired after all
Thanks to all this research, I’ve decided to research it a little further and a little more personally and I am going to attempt more sleep this month and see what difference it actually makes in just 29 days.
What about you? I’d love to hear in the comment box below what you think? How much sleep do you usually get? Would you function better, get more done if you slept a couple more hours?
The other thing I’d love to hear from you is any tips for getting to sleep? Lavender? Warm bath? What tips can you give me?
As always, thank you so much for coming by. If you liked this, please like it, tweet it, share it, all over your social networks and with your friends.
Bubbles of Love from me to you!