Sleep is the body’s natural way to relax and rejuvenate itself. In fact, it’s a state of mind during which all the voluntary muscles of the body, sensory activity, interaction with things around and consciousness are put on hold or altered for some time.

Sleeping for an adequate number of hours everyday is important for the health of an individual. This is because when a person sleeps, a number of side processes keep on happening in the body, a majority of which are cleaning processes.

For example, the waste clearing process of the brain gets accelerated in the resting phase. Sleeping brain gets itself rid of amyloid beta, which are a form of plaques responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, sleeping promotes restoration, memory processing and preservation of memories.

While sleeping for less number of hours per day may interfere with the above mentioned activities, sleeping more than required is also harmful for the health. It is believed that oversleeping may impact serotonin production in the brain and also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and lower back pain.

This is the reason why it is important to know what amount of sleep we actually need every day. This article examines the number of hours of sleep each individual needs according to age and how to identify the signs of sleep deprivation.

How much should you sleep?

The number of hours of sleep that one must get each day is dependent on a number of factors, including pregnancy, quality of sleep, ageing and sleep deprivation. However, age is one of the most important aspects that dictate how much sleep we actually need. It is a myth that all individual need at least 8 hours of sleep everyday. While some people really need more sleep, others can do away with less number of hours.

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New-borns, for example, need at least 14 to 17 hours of sleep everyday and infants up to 12 months of age should sleep for at least 10 hours at night and 4 hours during the daytime. The amount of sleep one needs gradually decreases with age with 3 to 5 years old requiring between 10 and 13 hours of sleep and 6 to 13 year old requiring at least 9 to 11 hours of sleep.

The sleep requirement changes as the child enters the late teenage. As a result, children aged between 14 and 17 require just 8 to 10 hours of sleep and adults need just 7 to 9 hours of sound sleep per day.

Pregnant women and older adults tend to have a changed sleeping pattern due to changes in the body. They may sleep a little longer, for a shorter period of time and less lightly than younger adults. Frequent interruption to sleep may reduce its quality, hence demanding more number of hours of sleep than usual.

Signs and effects of sleep deprivation

Sleeping for less than the required number of hours may lead to sleep deprivation. Some people believe that their performance and productivity is not impacted if they let go of one or two hours of sleep in a day. However, they must know that it is only a myth. While they may still wake up fresh after sleeping for less than the recommended number of hours, their performance and mental ability is impacted. It can get even worse if the pattern continues for several nights.

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You may be sleep deprived in case you exhibit one or several of the following signs:

  • Regularly need a nap to keep you working for the rest of the day
  • Rely on the alarm clock and snooze to get up in the morning
  • The body slows down automatically in the afternoon
  • Feeling sleepy during daytime events, meetings and lectures
  • Prefer to sleep over the weekends than to go out and have fun
  • Feeling sleepy as soon as you hit the bed or have a heavy meal
  • Trouble concentrating on things

Sleep deprivation has a number of harmful effects on your mental, physical and psychological health. For example, people who do not sleep for the recommended number of hours in a day, often feel irritated, lethargic, moody and stressful. In addition, they tend to gain weight, face problems with memory and lack motivation.

Previous studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to an increase in the risk of a number of diseases, including infections such as cold and flu, memory problems, diabetes and conditions related to the heart.

Previous studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to an increase in the risk of a number of diseases, including infections such as cold and flu, memory problems, diabetes and conditions related to the heart.