There’s no doubt that kids need more sleep than adults. Their growing bodies and brains burn through a lot of energy, and adequate rest and recovery are essential for proper development. That’s why the National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get eight to ten hours of sleep a night, while younger kids require more.
But what about adults? It’s common for people to sleep fewer hours in middle age than during their 20s or 30s—and to report feeling fine. But does a person’s sleep requirements diminish with age? “No,” says Dr. Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, director of clinical sleep research at the University of Chicago. “The amount of sleep needed doesn’t change, but the perception of sleep changes.”
The human body is capable of adaptation, Kheirandish-Gozal explains. If you move to a colder climate, you’ll eventually get used to it. And, in the same way, a person’s body and brain can grow accustomed to operating without adequate sleep.
This may not produce any noticeable issues in the short term. But over time, Kheirandish-Gozal says, insufficient sleep can mess with a person’s metabolism, mood, memory and heart function—therefore increasing his risk for obesity, diabetes, forgetfulness and heart disease, to name just a few of the many conditions linked to chronic poor sleep.
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Having healthy sleep habits is often referred to as having good sleep hygiene. Try to keep the following sleep practices on a consistent basis:
- Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
- Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
- Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees.Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up
SOURCE: THE TIME AND NSF