How Much You Need and Its 4 Stages – Cleveland Clinic

There’s a reason we tell our loved ones to get a good night’s sleep. For many of us, the benefits of a good night’s sleep are self-evident, as we tend to feel more comfortable and able to take on responsibilities when we are well rested. But many others find it difficult to get just the right amount of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about half of all Americans feel sleepy three to seven days a week — a sure sign we could all use a little more.

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how much sleep do you need

The younger you are, the more sleep you need. Babies need a lot of sleep. As children grow, their need for sleep decreases. “In adulthood, most healthy people need 7 to 8.5 hours,” says psychologist and sleep disorders specialist Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM. This is what children and adults need, on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Age hours of sleep needed
0-3 months 14-17
4-12 months 12-16
1-2 years 11-14
3-5 years 10-13
6-12 years 9-12
13-18 years 8-10
19-64 years 7-9
65+ years 7-8

Although sleep needs vary based on genetics, most adults are in the seven to nine hour range. If you think you’re having less success with it, think again.

“There are people who have short sleeps, but that’s pretty rare,” notes Dr. drerup “We’re not good judges of how lack of sleep affects us, and most people who think they can do well with little sleep would probably do better with a little more.”

A common misconception is that older adults don’t need as much sleep as they did in middle age. Older adults should still aim for at least seven hours, says Drerup.

“Older adults have different sleep patterns. They tend to sleep easier and wake up earlier in the morning,” she says. “But you still need the same amount of sleep over 24 hours. So if you sleep less at night, you might need a nap during the day.”

Benefits of Sleep

Sleep is a panacea that benefits your physical, mental, and emotional health. When you sleep, your body has a chance to rest and recover—and these restorative properties even occur at the cellular level. Key benefits of sleep include:

Of course, developing consistent sleep patterns to maximize these benefits can be a struggle all of its own. dr Drerup offers these tips to get the most out of your sleep schedule:

  • Switch off: Relax before bed by turning off electronic devices (aim to do it an hour before), turning off the lights, and engaging in calming activities (like taking a warm bath, reading, and relaxing) that help your body get sleepy .
  • Slow down: If you’re used to staying up until 2 a.m., you probably won’t fall asleep by 11 p.m. Start pushing back your bedtime by 15 or 20 minutes. Turn it back another 20 after a few days.
  • Be consistent: If you don’t get enough sleep during the week, you won’t be able to fully make up for that sleep deprivation at the weekend. Instead, try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
  • Be flexible: “You’re not going to be perfectly consistent every night,” she says. “But if you’re within an hour of your ideal sleep goal, that’s a good goal.”

Symptoms and side effects of sleep deprivation

Losing even an hour or two of sleep can impact your mood and overall health. So how do you know if you’re not getting enough sleep or if your sleepiness from the night before is a one-off accident? Here are some common signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation to look out for:

  • Difficulty staying awake when inactive (like watching TV).
  • difficulty concentrating.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Slowness in responding to others.
  • loss of motivation.
  • Increase in moodiness or temper.
  • Yawn constantly.
  • Day-long periods of sleepiness.
  • Need multiple power naps (sleeping in short periods of time).
  • You’re tired all the time.

It’s important to keep an eye on these symptoms, especially if they occur daily or weekly, as a long-term lack of sleep can lead to a variety of long-term problems, including:

sleep stages

An average sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. Ideally, you need four to six sleep cycles every 24 hours to feel fresh and rested. Each cycle contains four distinct phases: three that make up non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and one rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While the time spent in each stage varies the longer you sleep, and you may bounce back and forth between stages each night, each individual stage remains largely the same.

NREM level one

This phase of light sleep lasts five to ten minutes. During this phase, you “doze off” as your body and brain activity begins to slow down. If you are woken up during this phase, you may feel like you didn’t fall asleep at all.

NREM level two

During this light sleep phase, your muscles begin to relax as your body temperature drops and your heart rate and breathing slow down. During this phase, your eye movement stops and your brain waves slow down. There are occasional bursts of brainwaves called sleep spindles, which are believed to help store your memories and shut down your senses so your sleep is uninterrupted. This phase prepares you for entering deep sleep and can last up to 25 minutes.

NREM level three

This phase is called deep sleep, when your eyes and muscles are completely at rest. During this phase, your body repairs itself by regrowing tissue, strengthening your immune system, and building bone and muscle. It becomes increasingly difficult to wake you up during this phase, and if you are awakened you may experience a period of disorientation and brain fog for up to 30 minutes to an hour. During earlier sleep cycles, this phase can last 20 to 40 minutes and gets shorter and shorter as the sleep cycles progress. As you get older you spend less time in this phase and more time in phase two.

REM sleep

At this stage you are dreaming. Your brain activity increases greatly and can even reach or exceed your usual brain activity when you are awake. Your muscles enter a state of temporary paralysis, except for your eyes (which move rapidly during this phase) and the muscles that help you breathe. Your breathing will become faster and your heart rate and blood pressure will increase. Typically, the first phase of REM sleep occurs about 90 minutes into your sleep cycle and lasts about 10 minutes. Each of your later REM phases gets longer the more hours you sleep.

Sleep disorders? When to the doctor

About 70 million people in the US suffer from sleep disorders ranging from insomnia to sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy and more. If you are concerned about your sleep patterns or experience any of these disorders, make an appointment with your GP or sleep clinic as you may need to participate in a sleep study.

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