Proper sleep in terms of quality and quantity has a myriad of benefits:
- Bigger sense of optimism and well-being during the day.
- Increased willpower and energy.
- Better anticipation and analysis of problems.
- Better concentration and sharper memory.
- Better immune system efficacy.
- Lower stress levels.
- Body’s circadian rhythm is more in tune and weight regulation is more efficient.
- Students get better grades among their peers. Workers are more efficient.
Unfortunately, up to 80 percent of people dealing with depression feel ridden with some type of sleep disorder. Even those without mental illnesses may find themselves struggling with insomnia, hypersomnia, nightmares, sleep paralysis, or waking up during the night.
This is a problem. As total sleep time is reduced, deep sleep patterns occur less often, REM occurs earlier in the night, waking up mid-sleep is more frequent, going back to sleep after waking up is harder, and waking up irritable and poorly rested in the morning more likely.
In terms of quantity there are some guidelines for how much you should sleep, but every individual is unique, so if you need more or less that’s fine. Approximately:
- Newborns and infants should sleep between 12 and 18 hours per day.
- Toddlers up to 3 years old should sleep 12 to 14 hours.
- Kids up to 10 years old should sleep 10 to 12 hours.
- Teens should sleep 8.5 to 9.5 hours.
- Adults should sleep 7 to 9 hours.
If you find yourself having trouble with sleep consider trying to self-regulate by checking the time you go to bed, your alarm, how much you use your cellphone before bed (avoid it), and the type of drinks you’re having (avoid alcohol/drugs). If this is not enough, consider checking with a doctor. Some natural medicine (melatonin, for example) can also help your body regulate.
Lastly, there’s naps. Taking very long ones can make you feel disoriented. Taking too short ones can make you feel tired and sleepy by the time you wake up. Studies show keeping naps to 20 minutes is the optimal length, giving higher levels of alertness and keeping your brain sharp throughout the day.