Irritability, loss of focus and daytime sleepiness can all occur when you do not get enough sleep. But what exactly are we talking about when we discuss getting a good night’s rest. If you sleep the recommended amount of time, does that mean you will wake up refreshed and well-rested?
What we do know is that quality sleep is just as important as how long a person sleeps. Poor sleep quality and fragmented sleep can interfere with the benefits to be derived from sleeping for an appropriate length of time. Know more about the roles that sleep quantity and sleep quality play in relation to your health and well-being.
What is the Right Quantity of Sleep? How Much Sleep Do I need?
Can you get away with sleeping 4 to 5 hours nightly? Some people do sleep less than the recommended amount of hours. Each person may need a slight variation on the recommended amount of sleep to feel rested. What is the new standard rule of thumb to be applied to how long a person should sleep to support their body’s needs?
7 to 8 hours may not be the standard for everyone. New guidelines put out by the National Sleep Foundation, showed changes to recommended ranges for sleep and sleep ranges have become wider than before. The new sleep duration ranges based upon age groups are:
- Newborns should sleep from 14 to 17 hours every day.
- Infants from 4 months to 11 months should get anywhere from 12 to 15 hours of quality sleep.
- Toddlers should sleep 11 to 14 hours.
- Preschoolers from 3 to 5 years of age should get 10 to 13 hours.
- School-age children up to 13 years of age should get from 9 to 11 hours.
- Teenagers benefit from 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
- Adults from 18 to 25 are recommended to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. This is a new age category.
- Adults from 26 to 64 should sleep 7 to 9 hours.
- Older adults that are 65 or older should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly. This is also a new age category.
In many instances the recommendations are both lower and higher than set in previous ranges. The only recommendation that was not changed was that for adults from ages 16 to 64.
The panel acknowledged that some people naturally fall outside of the ranges and do not experience adverse health consequences. Therefore, they believe that the suggested sleep ranges “may be appropriate for some individuals.”
David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, said:
“The National Sleep Foundation Sleep Duration Recommendations will help individuals make sleep schedules that are within a healthy range. They also serve as a useful starting point for individuals to discuss their sleep with their health care providers.”
This is important to emphasize. People experiencing health issues or have come to rely upon stimulants such as coffee to get through their day may want to sit down with their regular health care provider and discuss how sleep quantity may support their health and productivity.
Along with sleep’s impact on the biological processes of the body, sleep may also influence a person’s tendency to gain weight. Individuals with a family history of obesity may be prone to weight gain from sleeping too little or too long. This is based from findings from a study of an estimated 120,000 UK Biobank participants. This is the first study of its kind. Dr. Jason Gill of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences stated:
“These data show that in people with high genetic risk for obesity, sleeping for too short or too long a time, napping during the day and shift work appears to have a fairly substantial adverse influence on body weight. However, the influence of adverse sleep characteristics on body weight is much smaller in those with low genetic obesity risk – these people appear to be able to ‘get away’ with poorer sleep habits to some extent.”
How long a person sleeps may exacerbate existing health conditions and sleeping too little or too much may undermine efforts to maintain a healthy weight.
Napping during the day does not seem to help make up for not getting a proper night’s rest on a regular basis.
Shift workers often do not get the sleep that they need in order to support the needs of their body. They may begin to develop circadian rhythm disorders with long-term shift work. It can be difficult to establish a regular sleep routine for those that work overnight or have a shift that changes throughout the week. They may have to make an extra effort to create an environment that supports quality sleep.
Quality of Sleep is Necessary for Restorative Sleep
Not only does it matter how much sleep you get, it may even be more important to get a quality night’s sleep on a regular basis. Sleep quality and continuity of sleep can be important factors impacting performance and how a person deals with routine stressors.
Parents of newborns can testify to how sleep deprivation and “broken sleep” can impact their professional and personal lives. Generally speaking in such situations, people find themselves more irritable and have less patience when handling difficult people or situations.
It can be hard to feel like yourself when struggling with poor quality of sleep. Poor quality sleep may lead to daytime sleepiness, issues with focus and more.
The National Sleep Foundation mentions that approximately 35 to 40 percent of adults in the United States have problems falling asleep or are subject to daytime sleepiness. Improved sleep quality can improve alertness and help people feel better during the day. Quality sleep is known to play an important role when it comes to:
- Immune system function.
It can become more difficult to grasp new concepts or react quickly when consistently sleep deprived. Restorative sleep needs to be both long enough and continuous to benefit the individual. Sleep fragmentation and sleep disorders may make it difficult to get the type of sleep recommended by doctors and researchers.
Sleep Fragmentation and Sleep Robbers
Understand how “sleep robbers” can undermine your best efforts to get a good night’s sleep. These robbers are not people but often environmental stimuli that can irritate the body and cause you to awaken while asleep. Your sleep then becomes fragmented and it may become difficult to get back to sleep. Common sleep robbers to be aware of include:
- A noisy environment. Being exposed to loud or unusual noises can easily awaken a person from sleep. Using earplugs and making sure that cribs, beds and televisions are not sharing the wall close to where you lay your head may help.
- Room temperature. A room that is too warm can cause sweating and overheat the body. You may awaken to provide yourself relief. Consider turning on a fan or lowering the thermostat before bed.
- Hygiene-related issues. An itchy scalp and clammy skin can make it difficult to get to sleep and enjoy continuity of sleep. Take a shower or bath before bed to address such issues.
There are ways to handle these chief culprits and enjoy an improved night’s sleep. Sleep better and without interruption when you take a moment to address these sleep robbers.
Not everyone has it so easy. Other people and those they love may have to deal with a sleep disorder. Common sleep disorders include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. Airways can become partially or fully blocked en route to the lungs or back out. Serious consequences can result.
- Periodic limb movements of sleep. Restless leg syndrome or RLS may cause unusual sensations on limbs or other body parts. People may awaken to stretch or move for temporary relief.
- Loud snoring. This results from vibration of tissue in airways. This can make sleep difficult for the person snoring and those around them. Treatments are available.
You or someone you know who has trouble getting the quality and quantity of sleep needed for optimal health can look to the experts at Sound Sleep Heath. Contact a friendly associate at (425) 279-7151 for more information or request an appointment using the form below. Start on your journey to enjoying regular quality sleep tonight.