Just like eating and breathing, sleeping helps promote optimum health and well-being. However, the old adage about getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night is not always true because this does not apply to everyone.
The fact is, every person has unique sleep need and many factors affect a person’s sleep health. To figure out the ideal amount of sleep for you, you need to determine your specific sleep needs.
What Experts Say
A baby will spend most of its time asleep regardless if it’s night or day. Older kids will fight bedtime while teens would typically sleep in during the weekends. As for grownups, an article by the Wall Street Journal reported that most adults should get about 7 to 7½ hours of sleep every night.
Image used under Creative Commons from Yoshihide Nomura
However, if one needs as much as 7 hours of sleep, how come there are some people who could function perfectly well while getting only 5 or 6 hours of sleep? In the same manner, why do some need more than 8 hours of solid of sleep to feel energized in the morning?
According to Sudhansu ChokrovertyMD, professor and co-chair of neurology and program director for clinical neurophysiology and sleep medicine at the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center in Edison, the hours of sleep needed by a person is determined genetically and hereditarily.
Sleep satisfaction changes from adolescence to adulthood, which is why some teens who felt like they’ve slept well the night before aren’t as energized as they should be.
Feeling less energized despite sleeping well at night is caused by slow wave sleep. The fact is, sleep is divided into two categories: Rapid Eye Movement or REM and Non-REM sleep cycles.
Non-REM sleep leads to three different stages of sleep, Stage 1, which is a light doze, Stage 2, which is middle sleep and finally, Stage 3, which is slow-wave deep sleep. Teens who feel tired after sleeping well has only gone to stage 2, which is not as restorative as stage 3 sleep.
Image used under Creative Commons from Andrew Roberts
Unfortunately, as you get older, sleep becomes less restorative. The combination of aging, physical and mental decline, as well as consumption of stimulants, will affect your sleep quality as an adult. Experts say good health and better sleep go hand in hand. As long as you are taking care of your health, you’ll enjoy restorative sleep.
Discovering Your Sleep Needs
The fact remains that generalizing the optimal amount of zzz’s a specific person needs require more data, something that modern science cannot provide – partly because most of the sleep data garnered by scientists are self-reported.
But one way to know how much sleep you need is to select a specific bedtime and sticking to it for a few days without using an alarm in the morning. After a week, you should have a good idea what your ideal sleep need is.