Have you ever given a thought to the fact that we spend one-third of our lives living in our dreams, rather sleeping. Is it necessary for our health and mental state to spend so much of the precious time on sleeping when we can use that time creatively? And if yes, how much sleep do we really need? Before going to this question, let’s first discuss the evolution of sleep. Why is sleep important to human beings?
Science behind Sleep
Sleep is a biological process similar to breathing, drinking and eating. It is said that sleep hasn’t evolved over time, but it is a primeval activity. To bring some light on the necessity for our health to spend time on sleeping, we need to understand the cellular metabolism that is associated to our sleeping process. Metabolism is nothing but the energy burned so that we work efficiently. It is the biochemical processes occurring in our body. Periodic cell processes are responsible for the timing of these metabolic rhythms such as storing as well as getting rid of the substrates, metabolic energy, and waste in our body. These metabolic rhythms, popularly known as the circadian rhythms, alert our brain of being in a no or less-energy state during the regular intervals of time that we sleep daily. So sleep is important for us to be active and for our metabolic rhythms to be regulated coherently.
How much sleep do we really need?
Coming back to this question, what determines the numbers of hours that we should sleep daily? Is it age or does it vary from one individual to another?
The U.S. national sleep foundation conducted a survey to determine how much sleep do you need by age. As the individual grows from a child to an older person, the number of hours he sleeps lessens at every stage of his life. It varies from 14-17 hours for a new-born to 8-10 hours for teenagers and 7-8 hours for adults over 65 years of age.
As there are two sides of the same coin, a physician named Daniel Kripe, M.D. who worked in Sleep Centre at Scripps Clinic and also a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry at the UCSD School of Medicine share a different points of view. He suggests that a person does not necessarily need to complete a 7- 8 hours of sleep duration. It varies from one individual to another. If a person is not told to be sleeping abnormally, feels refreshed and efficient during the day even after sleeping for only 6 and half hours, in which case there’s no need to contact a physician for his sleeping cycle. But, in order to enjoy the benefits of sleep, he should exercise daily and avoid eating heavy meals before going to bed.
Health benefits of sleep
A good amount of sleep leads to a healthier and happier lifestyle. The health benefits of sleep are way more to be able to write another blog in particular. But, let’s try to mention some of the benefits of our healthy sleeping pattern.
- People with less than 6 hours or excessive amounts of sleep are found to be obese or lose rapid weight rather than people with natural hours of sleep daily.
- It does not only provide us a happier lifestyle, but, also keep our heart healthy. In a recent study, it was concluded that people with abnormal sleeping patterns are more prone to heart attacks than others.
- Have you ever experienced the dilemma of not being able to solve a problem during night, but, just after a good night’s sleep, we get all our answers we were unable to obtain? Better sleep improves memory since we can revisit the things in sleep we implemented during our daytime, a practice popularly known as consolidation.
- Just as important, a good sleep ensures a much lower mortality rate in contrast to people who sleep less than 6 hours daily. It has also been revealed in various studies that people who sleep less have a shorter lifespan comparatively.
There are so many other benefits of sleep such as how it improves our creativity, regulates our emotions, and lessens our stress. It is important to have a proper circadian cycle of sleep according to an individual from six and half to eight hours of sleep to regulate our metabolism and keep us active during the daytime. So we shouldn’t sleep too less, or too excessively. Sleep is important not only to stay healthy, but also to live a happier and stress-free lifestyle. So I wish you all a healthy good-night’s sleep daily and to live a stress-free life.