How much sleep do you need?
The younger you are, the more sleep you need. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night, children and teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep and toddlers need 11-14 hours of sleep. If you wake up tired and need a lot of naps during the day, it is likely that you’re not getting enough sleep.
How does the sleep cycle work?
Your sleep cycle is regulated by an internal “body clock” which operates on a 24-hour cycle. This is called the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is influenced by light. This helps the brain determine whether it is day or night. When light disappears in the evening, the body releases melatonin, a hormone which makes you drowsy. When the sun rises in the morning, the body releases cortisol, a hormone which makes you energetic and alert.
When you are asleep, your body follows a sleep cycle which is divided into four stages. These stages repeat throughout the night. The most important stage is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) which occurs about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. This is when you have dreams. This stage is also linked to memory consolidation (turning the experiences of the day into memories.)
Why is sleep so important?
You need to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night for your brain to function properly. Lack of sleep can affect your behaviour and your mental abilities. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood swings, delayed reactions and difficulty concentrating. Lack of sleep has also been linked to a higher risk for some medical conditions. These include obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and poor mental health. Good sleep can improve your productivity and concentration. It also improves your immune system which can help protect you from disease.
How can you improve your sleep?
The most common cause of poor sleep is having bad sleeping habits. There are several ways to improve your habits. It is important to have a regular bedtime and wake-up time that you stick to even on weekends. Make sure that you have a good sleep environment by keeping light levels low in your bedroom. Having a comfortable mattress, pillow and sheets is also important. Try to avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine just before you go to bed. It is also useful to avoid electronic devices in the hours before you sleep. Reading or meditating before you go to sleep is a good alternative. Exercise during the day can also help your body prepare for sleep in the evening. Keeping a healthy diet is important for having good sleep.
Sleep is essential to your health and wellbeing. Good sleep can improve your mood and productivity. Lack of sleep can lead to poor mental health and loss of concentration. The best way to improve your sleep is to improve your sleeping and lifestyle habits. Exercise and healthy eating during the day are essential. At night, avoiding screens, caffeine and alcohol all contribute to better sleep.