How many hours do you need to sleep to really rest your body? How many hours do you need to sleep to really rest your body? This is the question that the experts of the National Sleep Foundation tried to answer: here are the new guidelines based on age.
Sleep is a vital indicator of health and general well-being. We spend up to a third of our lives sleeping. And most of us are aware that a good night’s sleep is important. We often do not consider this necessity a priority. So much so that accumulating a sleep debt for many becomes almost normal.
To further complicate matters, making good sleep difficult to reach. There are stimulating drinks, such as coffee or energy drinks, alarm clocks. And outdoor lights, including those of electronic devices, which interfere with the circadian rhythm – or the cycle natural of the day, formed by 24 hours – and with the natural sleep/wake cycle.
It is clear to everyone that sleep needs vary according to age. And are particularly influenced by lifestyle and health: to determine how many hours you need to sleep, in fact, it is important to assess not only the average duration of sleep. But also other factors, such as the times and the type of work and the accumulated stress during the day.
The American National Sleep Foundation has published the results of a world-class study that required more than two years of research to update the guidelines on the need for sleep, based on age. This study involved 18 leading scientists and researchers, who formed the panel of experts: among these, 6 sleep specialists and representatives of the major organizations concerning the main medical branches (Pediatrics, Anatomy, Chest Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology , Geriatrics, Neurology, Physiology, Psychiatry, Pneumology, Gerontology, Human Development).
Although the research is not able to identify an exact amount of sleep, needed by people of different ages, here are the questions he tried to answer by interviewing the study participants (and each of us should try to answer for understand how many hours you need to sleep to rest at best).
-Do you feel productive, healthy and happy after 7 hours of sleep? Or do you need 9 hours of quality rest to get in the morning?
-Do you have health problems like overweight? Or are you at risk (for family inheritance or physical condition) for any other pathology?
-Are you experiencing sleep problems?
-Do you need a lot of caffeine to stay clear during the day?
Do you feel sleepy when you drive?
The National Sleep Foundation is committed to providing scientifically rigorous recommendations, indicating recommended hours of sleep for each age. During the study, the experts reviewed the recommended amounts of sleep, particularly for children and adolescents and added new age categories.
Here are the new guidelines:
Infants (0-3 months): sleep interval of 14-17 hours (previously 12-18)
Infants (4-11 months): sleep interval 12-15 hours (before it was 14-15)
Infants (1-2 years): sleep interval 11-14 hours (previously 12-14)
Preschool children (3-5 years): sleep interval of 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
School-age children (6-13 years): sleep interval of 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
Adolescents (14-17 years): sleep interval of 8-10 hours (before it was 8.5-9.5)
Young adults (18-25 years): sleep interval of 7-9 hours (new age category)
Adults (26-64 years): sleep interval of 7-9 hours (not changed compared to the previous one)
Adults over the age of 65: sleep interval of 7-8 hours (new age category)
Other factors that affect sleep
In addition to age, other factors can influence the number of hours of sleep required. Changes in the body and hormones during pregnancy can, for example, increase the need for sleep. Furthermore, with the natural aging of the body. Older adults are found to have lighter sleep and sleep for shorter periods of time than younger ones. If you have been deprived of sleep, the amount of sleep you need will increase. If your sleep is often interrupted, you are not sleeping a quality sleep. Sleep quality is often as important as quantity.
To start a new path towards a healthier sleep and lifestyle, you need to start assessing your individual needs and habits. Observe how you respond to different amounts of sleep: pay particular attention to your mood, energy, and health after a restful night’s sleep compared to a restful night’s sleep and ask yourself: “How often do I get a good sleep? “. Sleeping well is an important activity on a par with diet and exercise: good sleep is essential for general health and to try to stay in shape.
Here are some simple but effective suggestions for healthy sleep :
-Study and stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends
-Practice a relaxation ritual before going to bed: for example, a warm bath and then a half-hour reading a book
-Practice daily exercise, but never after 7 pm, to allow the body to get rid of the adrenaline
-Pay attention to the characteristics of your bedroom: it must be well insulated from an acoustic and luminous level and there must be a temperature neither too rigid nor too hot (at night 17 degrees may be fine).
-Make sure that the mattress and pillows are comfortable, ergonomic, with high-quality materials.
-No alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
-No to electronic devices (smartphones, iPads, TVs) before going to bed to avoid the negative effects of blue light on our body.
Assume foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach, chard, lettuce or dried fruit, bitter cocoa, pumpkin seeds, peas, and whole grains. Magnesium, in fact, is the mineral responsible for the proper functioning of metabolic processes. It presides over the balance of the nervous system, regulating neurotransmitters, responsible for the production of hormones such as melatonin, essential in the sleep-wake cycle.
Make sleep your priority
If you or a family member experience the following symptoms: daytime sleepiness, persistent snoring, cramps or tingling in the legs, breathing difficulties during sleep, prolonged insomnia, it is good that you consult your primary care physician or a sleep specialist to investigate the underlying cause insomnia. For complete information, you can also try to keep a sleep journal. To track your sleep habits for a period of one or two weeks and then submit the results to the doctor.
The most important thing, in any case, is that you make sleep a priority: you have to program it like any other daily activity, then put it in the daily to-do list and delete it every morning, trying to put back the right time to sleep well.