Humans need sleep for many reasons, such as conserving energy, maintaining health and well-being, supporting healthy brain function and growth and development. During sleep, the body and the brain go through different stages and cycles that help regulate various functions, such as hormones, metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory system and immune system. Without enough sleep, humans can experience problems with thinking, memory, concentration, mood, weight and disease risk.
How much sleep do humans need?
|Age Group||Age Range||Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day|
|Newborn||0–3 months||14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation) No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)|
|Infant||4–12 months||12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Toddler||1–2 years||11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Preschool||3–5 years||10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|School Age||6–12 years||9–12 hours per 24 hours|
|Teen||13–18 years||8–10 hours per 24 hours|
|Adult||18 years and older||7 or more hours per night|
To find out how much sleep you need personally, you can ask yourself some questions such as:
- How do you feel after different amounts of sleep?
- Do you have any health issues that affect your sleep quality or quantity?
- Do you engage in physical activities that require more energy and recovery?
- Do you perform tasks that require alertness and concentration?
- Do you feel sleepy or rely on caffeine during the day?
- Do you have a regular sleep schedule or do you sleep in when you can?
What are the benefits of sleeping well?
Sleeping well has many benefits for your physical and mental health. Some of the benefits are:
- Improved mood: Sleep restores your energy and helps you feel more positive and less stressed.
- Healthy heart: Sleep lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, which reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
- Regulated blood sugar: Sleep helps your body use insulin properly, which prevents high blood sugar and diabetes.
- Improved mental function: Sleep enhances your memory, concentration, learning, creativity and problem-solving skills.
- Restored immune system: Sleep boosts your immune system and helps you fight off infections and diseases.
- Stress relief: Sleep relaxes your body and mind and lowers the levels of stress hormones.
- Athletic performance: Sleep improves your muscle strength, coordination, reaction time and endurance.
- Maintaining healthy weight: Sleep regulates your appetite hormones and prevents overeating and weight gain.
Here are 10 tips to improve sleep quality:
1. Set a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
2. Create a bedtime routine. This can include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
3. Take a nap. A short nap (20-30 minutes) can help improve alertness and performance.
4. Turn off electronic devices before bedtime. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
5. Meditate or practice relaxation techniques before bed. This can help reduce stress and anxiety.
6. Spend time outside during the day. Exposure to natural light can help regulate your body’s internal clock.
7. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and duration.
8. Keep your bedroom cool and dark. A cool, dark environment can help promote sleep .
9. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Both can interfere with sleep quality and duration .
10. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your sleeping position.
Here are 10 funny facts about sleep:
1. The albatross bird can multitask by sleeping while flying.
2. The sensation of falling when half asleep and jerking yourself awake is called a ‘hypnic jerk’.
3. A snail can sleep for up to three years.
4. The record for the longest period without sleep is 11 days.
5. A giraffe only needs 1.9 hours of sleep per day.
6. The average person will spend about 6 months of their life dreaming.
7. Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep .
8. A study found that people who sleep on their left side are more likely to have nightmares than those who sleep on their right side .
9. The word “nightmare” comes from the Old English word “mare,” which means goblin or demon .
10. Elephants sleep standing up, but they only enter REM sleep when lying down .