There is no set amount of time that everyone needs to sleep, since it varies from person to person. Sleep needs are also individual as different age groups need different amounts of sleep. The US National Sleep Foundation suggests seven to nine hours a night is advisable for adults. Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. Thus, to determine how much sleep you need, it's important to assess not only where you fall on the "sleep needs spectrum," but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stres
There is no set amount of time that everyone needs to sleep, since it varies from person to person. Sleep needs are also individual as different age groups need different amounts of sleep. The US National Sleep Foundation suggests seven to nine hours a night is advisable for adults. Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. Thus, to determine how much sleep you need, it's important to assess not only where you fall on the "sleep needs spectrum," but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stress.
The first thing experts will tell you about sleep is that there is no "magic number." Not only do different age groups need different amounts of sleep, but sleep needs are also individual. Just like any other characteristics you are born with, the amount of sleep you need to function best may be different for you than for someone who is of the same age and gender. While you may be at your absolute best sleeping seven hours a night, someone else may clearly need nine hours to have a happy, productive life.
Studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, as they report, live the longest. And people who sleep 8 hr. or more, or less than 6.5 hr., they don't live quite as long. There is just as much risk associated with sleeping too long as with sleeping too short. The big surprise is that long sleep seems to start at 8 hr. Sleeping 8.5 hr. might really be a little worse than sleeping 5 hr.
Jim Horne from Loughborough University's Sleep Research Centre has a simple answer though: "The amount of sleep we require is what we need not to be sleepy in the daytime."Even animals require varied amounts of sleep:
The sleep requirements for each person depend on many factors, including age. For example, in general:
- Infants require about 16 hours a day.
- Teenagers need about nine hours on average.
- Most adults need seven to eight hours a night for the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as five hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.
- Women in the first three months of pregnancy often need several more hours of sleep than usual.
However, experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven't had enough sleep.
How Can I Determine My Sleep Needs?
There is an easy way to determine how much sleep you need. Follow these steps:
- Set aside a week or two that you can focus on your sleep and not allow disruptions or changes to your sleep schedule.
- Select a typical bedtime and stick with it, night after night.
- Allow yourself to sleep in as long as you want, awakening without an alarm clock in the morning.
- After a few days, you will have paid off your sleep debt, and you will begin to approach the average amount of sleep that you need.
- Once you determine your need, try to set your bedtime at an hour that will allow you the sleep you need, while still waking up in time to start your day.
The timing of your sleep is controlled by something called the circadian body clock located in the depths of your brain. Once your body clock has decided it’s time to rest, it works with other functions in the body to help prepare you for the night of sleep ahead, stopping the various bodily functions associated with being awake. The same goes for when it’s time to wake, where the reverse happens.
Which sleep pattern is better.' sleep at a stretch or sleep multiple times'?
A good sleep pattern is the cornerstone to getting great sleep. The key to getting it right is to choose a sleep pattern and stick to it like glue. Don’t think you’re limited to just one sleep and wake time. With an understanding of the stages of sleep and the sleep cycle, you can sleep multiple times during the day and effectively feel great on as little as 3 hours of sleep per day. Let's learn about different sleep patterns.
Monophasic Sleep Pattern:
Monophasic sleep is essentially what most people would call a normal sleeping pattern. A person sleeps for around 8 hours per night, variable per person. It’s the most common sleeping pattern and the one most societies have adopted.
Polyphasic Sleep: A polyphasic sleep pattern consists of multiple sleeps per day, generally ranging from 4 to 6 periods of sleep per day. This is achieved by implementing many 20-30 minute naps throughout the day. Advocates say that polyphasic sleep allows for more productive awake hours.
Biphasic Sleep: Biphasic is accomplished by splitting sleep into 2 sections. Generally the Biphasic sleeping pattern is 3 hours (core sleep) at night and a 90 minute nap sometime during the day.
Segmented sleep: also known as divided sleep, bimodal sleep pattern, or interrupted sleep, is a polyphasic or biphasic sleep pattern where two or more periods of sleep are punctuated by a period of wakefulness. Along with a nap in the day, it has been argued that this is the natural pattern of human sleep. A case has been made that maintaining such a sleep pattern may be important in regulating stress.
While not considered all that common in Britain or America, siestas, a short afternoon nap after lunch, are common in Spain and many Latin American counties.
There are many advantages to both biphasic and polyphasic sleep patterns. These include:
- Reducing the number of hours spent asleep per day
- Increase the quality of sleep (more time spent at NREM rather than REM)
- Improved dream recall
- More energy throughout the day
It appears that polyphasic sleep encounters the precisely same problems as seen in jet lag or shift-work. Human body clock is not adapted to sleeping in patterns other than monophasic or biphasic sleep.
Our bodies naturally adjust our sleep wake cycle to be in line with the day night cycle. This is down to a hormone called melatonin which naturally secretes itself in darkness to promote sleepiness and suppresses itself during daylight to keep you awake.
You should pick a sleeping pattern that suits you the best.
* Alternative Sleeping Patterns - Polyphasic and Biphasic