Sleep is very important for our body. It’s so vital, that we cannot live without it. You can last perhaps weeks without food, but without sleep, it will be just a matter of days until your body will give up. We have to be very serious about the amount of sleep that we get, otherwise our body and mind will start to suffer. Most of us think of sleep like a pause for our body and brain, when they recharge their batteries and prepare for a new day. But sleep is not quite like that, in fact, our brain does never sleep. On contrary, our brain does some very intense activity while we sleep. In the modern days, we hear a lot of people complaining about stress and other problems, causing them to have insufficient sleep, or a troubled sleep that does not give them proper rest.
Life gets more complicated everyday, we have so many things to do that takes us a lot of time, and leaves us with so little time for us to do personal things, including sleep. You sure remember the last time you had a sleepless night and couldn’t fall asleep. Have you ever thought why that happened? There are many reasons why we have trouble falling asleep, stress being one of the most common reasons for this. Scientists say that getting enough sleep is very, very important for us, and we should never neglect it.
But why is sleep so important for us?
Scientists are still trying to understand exactly the phenomenon called sleep, why it occurs, why we need it, and what exactly happens to our body and brain while we sleep. There are many things that cannot be explained about sleep for years now, and still remain a mystery. Sleep is a primitive function of our body, such as reproduction, eating, breathing and so on. For example, hunger is a thing that was developed by our body during mankind evolution, to protect our body against malnutrition. That’s why we feel hungry, and hunger doesn’t feel good – it’s a way of your body to tell you that it needs proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. But when it comes to sleep, scientists cannot give a certain reason why our body and brain needs it exactly, only theories.
On to the other hand, what we do know so far about sleep(at least in theory), is that our body performs a lot of crucial processes, such as consolidating memories, conserving energy, healing and growing, consolidating our immune system, improving short term and long term memory, and so on. Without getting into too much science, we can all see and feel the negative effects of not getting enough sleep. We are tired all day, we don’t have enough energy, we find it difficult to think about complicated matters, multitasking becomes very hard, we can’t concentrate, our mood is affected in a bad way, and the list can go on. Moreover, if we don’t get enough rest regularly, other problems can appear, such as insomnia. So it’s always better to give a big importance to our sleep.
How much sleep do we need?
As we always say, everything needs to be done and taken with moderation, and same goes for sleep. Sleeping too much can actually do us harm – sleeping too much on a regular basis, can cause us health issues such as increased chance of getting a heart stroke and disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, inflammation, cognitive function problems, and so on. Sleep is considered to be too much once you sleep more than nine hours everyday for an adult.
But how much sleep do we actually need? Well the answer is highly dependent to your age. Depending on your age, according to the National Sleep foundation, you need a certain minimum and maximum hours of sleep per day. Down below we will make a list of how much sleep you need for your age:
- Between ages of 1 and 2 the body needs between 11 and 14 hours of sleep
- Between ages of 3 and 5 the body needs between 10 and 13 hours of sleep
- Between ages of 6 and 13 the body needs between 8 and 10 hours of sleep
- Between ages of 14 and 17 the body needs between 11 and 14 hours of sleep
- Between ages of 18 and 64 the body needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep
- For aged over 65, the body needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep
Problems with sleep?
Most of us usually have no trouble with sleep, but on occasions due to stress and worries, we might experience sleep issues and the inability to fall asleep even if we are tired and sleepy. That is normal and nothing to worry about, because everyone has problems in their lives at some point. The problem starts to appear once this happens more than it should. Here are included the following issues: inability to fall asleep only after a long time, having a very agitated sleep with lots of bad dreams and waking up constantly, sweating a lot while sleeping especially above our shoulders (which is not caused by a too high temperature in the room). If you are experiencing such issues as exampled above for a long time now, it is strongly recommended that you consult a certified specialist, that can give you the best recommendations and even medication to make you sleep better.
There are also lots of things that you can do yourself regarding sleep issues, if you consider is has not become yet a significant problem for you.
- Muscle relaxers – sometimes we can have a hard time sleeping because our muscles are too tense. For this issue, we can use muscle relaxers. As an important note, muscle relaxers are usually medical treatments that should be prescribed by a doctor. There are cons and pros for them, such as fighting insomnia, increasing sleep time, but also can cause addiction and drowsiness. So always be careful when you are taking medicine.
- New mattress and/or bed: sometimes, our bed and mattress can give us a hard time sleeping, because they are not very comfortable. If you think this could be it, you can invest in this matter and see the results as they come by.
- Regularly change your bed sheets: we do not realize, but they can become dirty and full of mites and other spooky stuff in a relative short time, and these can have a negative effect on our health (such as asthma) and sleep.
- Warm milk: if you know it’s past your bedtime and don’t feel sleepy, a glass of warm milk has been proven to be able to make you sleepy, and even more, sleep better.
- Disturbances: when you sleep, specialists say that your bedroom should be dark, with no strident lights or flashing lights, and also to be quiet. So make sure your bedroom is peaceful enough, turn off your TV or radio while you sleep.
- White sound: some people say that white sound makes them more calm, fall asleep faster and sleep better (me included, for me it actually works!). White sound is constant background sound, such as rain sound, fireplace sound, fan or AC sound, static sound, and so on.
- Teas and aromas: there are many teas and aromas/smells that can help you sleep better, such as herbal tea or lavender.