Sleep is one of those things we all need, but very few of us actually get enough of. There are plenty of excuses for this: busy lives, last minute projects, constant distractions, and so on. However, even though we recognize our need for sleep, we don’t recognize how great that need is. Truth be told, sleep is very important. A lack of sleep can be an indicator of other, often serious health problems, and not sleeping itself can lead to others. Still, how much sleep does one actually need? Well, that depends on a number of factors, most notably, age.
Humans spend around one-third of their lifetime asleep, which translates to about eight hours of sleep per day; missing an hour here or there doesn’t hurt, but when one consistently gets less than eight hours, health problems can arise. Oftentimes, people don’t even realize that they aren’t getting enough sleep, which can make it hard to determine when it’s time to adjust sleeping habits. Here’s what you need to know about getting enough sleep, the problems that arise when you don’t, and what you can do to get the right amount of sleep every night.
As stated earlier, it’s generally accepted that adults should get eight hours of sleep every night. However, that eight hours does not apply to everyone. It’s thought that children under the age of 18 years should sleep for longer (depending on how far below 18 they are) while the elderly should sleep even less than eight hours. If you’re looking to find out where you fall on the sleep to age ratio, the National Sleep Foundation has provided a chart to help you.
This chart, which indicates how much sleep you should aim for, as well as some wiggle room for sleeping a little more or less, was compiled by experts in various fields dealing with health or sleep. Obviously, if possible, you’ll want to stay within the acceptable range of your sleep hours; if you fall too far outside this range, serious health issues could arise, some of which you might overlook, or not attribute to sleeping habits. If you’re still not sure if you have a sleep-related problem, here are some signs and symptoms to look for:
(credit: Sleep Foundation)
8. Anxiety and Depression
Both insomnia and oversleeping can be caused by mental conditions such as anxiety or depression. As you might expect, anxiety can make it difficult for a person to get to sleep at night because of all the constant thoughts, the worrying, and the restlessness, which leads to insomnia. Likewise, you might expect that depression generally leads to oversleeping due to fatigue and lack of motivation. However, both anxiety and depression can result in insomnia and/or oversleep; in fact, depression tends to cause insomnia more often than it does oversleep, but both can have adverse effects on the body’s overall health.