No matter who you are or when you read this, sleep is the foundation for your health. Sleep is more than just lying in bed and resting your body -and your mind-.
When you sleep, the human body carries out essential processes of life such as repairing tissues that have been worn out day-round, restoring energy, and removing the body from accumulated toxins. That’s why getting enough quality sleep is necessary for maintaining metabolic functions, improving memory, boosting your immune system, and controlling your body weight. Sleep is essential for your well-being.
Unfortunately, when life becomes hectic, sleep is one of the first things to be overlooked or sacrificed. Not getting enough sleep is linked to the development of chronic diseases -like heart disease, obesity and depression- and other health issues.
This post will help you know general recommendations for how much sleep is optimal for your overall health, and healthy sleep tips to improve your sleep today.
How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?
Knowing the general recommendations for how much sleep you need is very important. However, sleep patterns change from person to person and from night to night depending on a wide range of factors, especially age.
These are the recommended hours of sleep each night by age group:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-12 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
- School children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
- Adults (18-64 years): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
Experts recommend naps from infants to preschoolers. If you’re a parent, you should be aware of the importance for school-aged children to have a sleep schedule. As sleep improves learning, memory, managing emotions, and mental and physical health.
As well as age, following factors can change the recommended amount of sleep:
- Sleep quality. If you suffer from insomnia or mid-sleep awakenings, you're not getting a good night’s sleep. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity.
- Sleep deprivation. Sleep debt increases the amount of sleep you need. It also has mental and physical consequences, like depression and fatigue.
- Pregnancy. Pregnant women often need more hours of sleep each night.
Genetics and sleep
Your genetic makeup affects human sleep. Recent studies found that genetic variations impact sleep regulation.
The three main features of sleep that are influenced by genes are sleep timing, duration, and architecture.
- Timing of sleep. Sleep wake cycle is determined by the circadian rhythm -also known as circadian clock-, which sleep wake cycle- by inducing sleep in response to darkness. Recent studies showed central core circadian ‘clock’ genes which encode proteins that regulate circadian rhythm.
- Duration of sleep. Genes explain why some people need 8 hours of sleep, while others need only 6 hours of sleep each night without health consequences.
- Architecture of sleep. The efficiency and quality of your sleep are also controlled by the genes of the other two features. Scientists found that carriers of some variants affect the time to fall asleep.
Can insomnia be heritable? As sleep duration is inheritable, if a family member has insomnia, you are more likely -about 30 to 50%- to experience insomnia.
Although your genetic makeup is something you cannot change, here are a few tips to improve your sleep.
Tips for a good night's sleep
Now that you know how many hours of sleep you need each night, it’s time to find out how to achieve the full night’s sleep.
Have you ever heard of ‘sleep hygiene’? It is the set of healthy habits and behavior that help you have a good night’s sleep.
Here are a few useful tips for better sleep:
- Go behind a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed every night at the same time, even on weekends. This helps regulate your circadian clock.
- Build a relaxing bedtime routine. Practice meditation, read a book or have a bedtime tea before bed makes it easier to fall asleep.
- Set up a comfortable environment. Choosing the best mattress is as important as finding cozy bedding, pillows and lights. Temperature and aroma also matter.
- Keep away from large meals, caffeine, alcohol. They are linked to poor sleep quality and delay the time to fall asleep.
- Get some exercise. Getting exercise in the daytime can help you sleep better at night. You shouldn’t exercise before bedtime. Adrenaline released makes it difficult to fall asleep.
- Disconnect from electronic devices. Set mobile phones, tablets and laptops aside at least half an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid long naps after mid-afternoon. Napping in the late afternoon can affect your nighttime sleep.
Taking food supplements -like melatonin with L-tryptophan- can shift the timing of your body's ‘clock’. Melatonin is an endogenous hormone involved in circadian rhythmicity maintenance and sleep regulation. Kobho's melatonin formula not only improves sleep quality and mood, but also boosts your immune system.
If you think you have ongoing sleep problems or are concerned about the amount of sleep you get, you should visit your primary care doctor.
Make sleep a priority. Today is the best day to start improving your sleep.