Sleeping is essential and problems with sleep can affect our mood, our productivity and even our health. This action is often devalued and sometimes considered a waste of time. However, it is important to pay the attention it deserves as a good night of sleep can change our days.
We studied the most frequently asked questions about sleep and answered them all. Get to know better this activity of the human being that is responsible for 1/3 of our lives and can lead to a healthier life. If you have any unanswered questions about sleep, put it in the comments and we will find the answer for it.
1- How much sleep do we really need?
Your age and health condition influence the number of hours you need to sleep. Normally, healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Children and teenagers need more hours.
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
Source: National Sleep Foundation
2- What happens if we don’t get enough sleep?
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem and can negatively affect your daily life. Sleep is important for our nervous system to work properly. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can suffer memory and concentration lost, fatigue and headaches. If you can’t sleep the necessary amount of hours per night, read our article about sleep disorders here and find out more about it.
3- Why do we sleep?
Sleep is necessary for our survival. Sleep gives our body a rest and allows it to prepare for the next day. Sleep also gives our brain a chance to sort things out. During the day brain cells build connections with other parts of the brain as a result of new experiences. During sleep, it seems that important connections are strengthened and unimportant ones are pruned. Experiments with sleep-deprived rats have shown that this process of strengthening and pruning happens mostly while they sleep.
4- Is it true that there are five stages of sleep?
Yes, that is true.
The sleep cycle progresses through stages 1 to 4, and the deepest stage of sleep and relaxation is known as REM sleep (rapid eye movement), where the most vivid dreams occur. The cycle repeats itself after REM sleep has passed. Almost half our sleep is spent in stage 2, with about 20% in REM sleep and 30% in all the other stages combined. Infants spend about 50% of their sleep time in REM sleep.
5- People need less sleep as they grow older?
No. Our need for sleep remains fairly constant throughout adult life. Older adults may experience changes in their sleep patterns including more difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep. Some older adults report feeling inadequate sleep and daytime tiredness, which leads them to taking naps during the day and then affect night sleep.
6- What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that leads to a breathing that repeatedly stops and re-starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night of sleep, you might suffer from sleep apnea.
Read our article about sleep disorders here to discover the causes and solutions for sleep apnea.
7- What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene are the practices that promote regular and restful sleep.
Components of sleep hygiene can include going to bed and having a routine with regular hours every day, making the bedroom relaxing and inviting, using the bed only for sleeping, and removing personal electronic devices and TVs from the bedroom.
8- How does caffeine affect sleep?
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. With this stimulus, the natural sleep process slows down, making it difficult to fall asleep. Read our article on what to eat and not to eat before sleeping here.
9- How many times a day is our body programmed to feel sleepy?
Our bodies are programmed for two natural periods of sleepiness during the day, independently of the amount of hours we have slept the night before. The first period is between midnight and 7 a.m., and a second period occurs in the mid-afternoon, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m, generally after lunch. We feel sleepy after lunch, as there is an increase in blood flow towards the stomach and intestine, to aid in the digestion process. Thus, the decrease in the level of oxygen in the brain, leads us to a state of almost hibernation and logically, we feel sleepy.
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If you want to go deeper into the topic of sleep, read our article here.