We spend one third of our lives asleep, and there’s a good reason for it. Sleep is a crucial part of our lives that is responsible for many important things. Whoever said that they didn’t need a lot of sleep, and spent that time of their lives exhausting their bodies, lied to you.
We all need sleep. In fact, sleep is so important, that the lack of it eventually plays an enormous role in both psychological and physical deterioration.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), sleep deficiency can have such negative effect on our health, that in certain cases even your life may be on the line.
It has been proven that sleep affects our memory, cognitive function, and our creativity. The lack of it has an adverse effect on our emotional state and our ability to make decisions, and it can lead to depression and even suicide.
Which is more, sleep affects our physical health greatly – its deficiency can pose a great threat to our heart function, the risk of obesity, our hormonal levels (including insulin), our growth and development, fertility, and our immune system.
In fact, continual sleep deficiency and large sleep debt have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, kidney diseases, and diabetes.
It also affects our daytime performance, and thus our safety. NIH points to the fact that losing just 1-2 hours of sleep per night may affect your ability to function to the extent as if you haven’t sleep at all for a day or two.
In such cases of sleep debt, we may enter what is called microsleep. This kind of sleep happens while we are awake. In that moment, our brains enter a short sleep during which we are not aware of and we then forget when we ‘wake up’.
This kind of state can be fatal if you are driving, handling dangerous machinery. Many tragic accidents have happened because of sleep deficiency. Car accidents are the most common, as sleep deficiency contributes to around 100,000 car accidents each year, which result in approximately 1500 deaths.
Considering all things mentioned, sleep is crucial and should not be underestimated. Every age of our lives comes with how many hours of sleep the body needs. The general wisdom is the approximate of 7-8 hours.
However, the National Sleep Foundation has provided some more precise guidelines in how many hours of sleep per day are necessary for a person depending on the age.
In the infographic, there are 8 age groups in total with different sleep times. All you need to do is find your own age range and respect the time you need to sleep.
Of course, you can’t always stick to such schedule, as things come up and you may sometimes need to cut a few hours short, leaving them in your sleep debt. But don’t forget to pay your sleep debt off, as it may cost you more than you can bargain for.
The best solution to this is creating a strict sleep schedule with an alarm clock for going to bed and waking up. It may seem strange to have an alarm that sends to bed (and we recommend something relaxing), but sticking to your sleep schedule is important.
So, set your go-to-bed alarm, turn off the lights, leave your cell phone somewhere further from you, and enjoy the coziness of your bed. At first, it may be difficult, but do what you usually do to fall asleep and avoid caffeinated drinks and food before bed.
Oversleeping isn’t good as well, so make sure you train your body and mind through persistent repetition. And when it comes to sleep debt, adjust your next sleep time to last longer, in order to get back to 0.