Are You Having Enough Sleep?

Having enough sleep is one step towards a healthy life.

by Rey Beltran |

We grew up with the notion that we need an eight hours’ worth of sleep. But why do we find ourselves waking up and falling short of that eight hour need?  As we grow old, our sleeping hours begin to shorten. From the usual eight hours to an average of five or six hours’ worth. Some people get by with four hours’ worth while some need to sleep more than nine hours. But is that really enough?

The huge popularity of the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) website feature, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?, drew a panel of experts to assure us that the information found there can be relied upon for being accurate and up-to-date.

Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council, said that “sleep duration was basically one of the most visited pages on the NSF website, and it wasn’t really clear how those recommendations for the ranges had been arrived at.”

To find out how, a formal literature review was conducted by a panel of six sleep experts and 12 other medical experts from organizations that included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Society for Research in Human Development. The panel’s time frame for the review was between 2004 and 2014. And from the 312 peer-reviewed journals, the panel members were able to zero in on existing sleep duration recommendations:

Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (range narrowed from 12-18)
Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (range widened from 14-15)
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (range widened from 12-14)
Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (range widened from 11-13)
School-Age Children (6-13): 9-11 hours (range widened from 10-11)
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (range widened from 8.5-9.5)
Young Adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours (no change)
Older Adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, had this to say in his statement: “This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety.”

In light of this new information, it is imperative that we should be able to at least get that much sleep according to our age bracket. But can we manage to get enough sleep? A lifestyle change might be in order if you have been depriving yourself of that much needed rest.

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