Monday, March 28, 2011

How much sleep do you need?

A good night’s sleep has lots of benefits. It can help improve memory, reduce stress, and reduce the risk of diabetes. Here’s a quick review of some recent studies.

Sleep helps your heart - A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
Sleep helps weight loss - Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat than those who were sleep deprived..
Live a longer life. In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.
Sleep improves performance - A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
Sleep keeps you alert - A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages seven and eight who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.

How much sleep do you need?
It varies. Everyone is different. You can try this 3 Day Test to help you figure it out. Go to sleep the first night for as long as you want to try to reduce any sleep debt. Don’t set the alarm and let your body wake up naturally.
Then sleep the next two nights for as long as your body needs. If you sleep for the same amount of time or within 15 minutes both nights, that is a good indication of the amount of time you need each night.

Don’t try this test if you are sick or spent a few nights in a row sleep deprived. Here are a couple of notes

Quality is as important as quantity. If you sleep 8-9 hours a night and you still feel tired, you may not be getting good quality sleep. Try a new pillow or mattress. Making the room darker with blackout blinds or using earplugs can help.

If you sleep extra on weekends can you work off your sleep debt?
It looks as though you can to a limited extent. Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep.

Recommended Amount of Sleep

Infants 14 to 15 hours
Toddlers 12 to 14 hours
School-age children 10 to 11 hours
Adults 7 to 9 hours

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. You ay also need more sleep if you are pregnant.