Do you usually feel rested when you wake up in the morning or do you wish you could just crawl back under the covers and forget about the world? Are you alert during the day or do you doze off during meetings, your noggin nearly hitting the table? If you recognize yourself in the latter question, you probably are not getting enough sleep. But how much sleep does one actually need?
It is difficult to assess how much sleep humans need, as only one can determine how much sleep one actually requires. Newborns usually sleep an average of 16 to 18 hours per day, compared with pre-school-aged children who need to sleep between 10 and 12 hours per day. Older children and teenagers generally require 9 hours of sleep to feel rested. Typically, teenagers tend to go to bed late and wake up late, and this is in no way abnormal. However, school schedules are such that they are in direct conflict with natural sleep patterns, instigating an onslaught of chronic sleep deficit in teenagers.
To function properly during the day, a healthy adult usually requires on average 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Our need for sleep tends to diminish as we age. Older people typically need 6 hours of sleep per night and tend to wake up easily, frequently, and for longer periods of time throughout the night. They usually favour turning in early and waking up early. As with teenagers, this atypical schedule is not at all abnormal.
To evaluate if you are getting enough sleep, you simply need to pay attention to how you perform during the day. If you feel rested when you wake up in the morning and are alert throughout the day, you probably sleep well and are getting enough sleep. People who do not get enough sleep usually exhibit diminished motor skills, sluggish response time, memory and concentration problems, and are easily distracted.
A lack of sleep at night has immediate and serious repercussions on the following day’s regular activities like driving, work and school performance, as well as memory and learning abilities. Parallel to this, the strategies you adopt during the day to counter drowsiness and sleepiness also impact the restfulness you will enjoy, or not, the coming night. Many have a tendency to drink more coffee or caffeine-loaded soft drinks to pep themselves up and also tend to abandon their usual physical activities because they feel tired and run down. These behaviours can perturb your sleep pattern. When you notice these symptoms, you should quickly re-establish you natural sleep cycle so you can recover strength and vivacity.
Regrettably, you cannot recoup sleep or accumulate reserves on the weekend. Each day depletes our batteries and requires us to slow down and take respite from the day’s events. As we all know, the holidays can easily disturb our sleep patterns, so be on the lookout for cheerlessness and low energy levels.