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What Is A Healthy Amount Of Sleep?

Let me bring all of you back to your teen age years, more specifically high school and the first few years of college: How many hours did you/could you sleep per night?  I know my answer:  I could sleep 10-12 hours if given the chance.  As time goes on and we all advance in age, clearly, we cannot sleep as many hours as we did decades ago.  Personally, I am usually about 6-6.5 hours a night.  How about you and how does this compare to what is recommended?

First, let’s look at a chart of age and how much sleep is usually needed:

        Age group        Recommended amount of sleep
Infants 4 months to 12 months 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours, including naps
1 to 2 years11 to 14 hours per 24 hours, including naps
3 to 5 years10 to 13 hours per 24 hours, including naps
6 to 12 years9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
13 to 18 years8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
Adults7 or more hours a night

So, for adults, the recommended amount of sleep is 7 hours per night.  How many of you out there actually sleep for 7 hours a night?  Many factors contribute not only to the quantity of sleep but also the quality of sleep.  Some of contributing factors include:

  • How often we wake up at night to use the bathroom
  • Stress from our daily lives that impact the amount and quality of sleep
  • Noise made by our bed partners (yep, pretty difficult to sleep if your spouse is using a CPAP device)
  • Sleep apnea and/or other nighttime breathing issues
  • Having to wake up early to get the kids ready for school before we go off to work

Many other issues can impact the quantity and quality of our sleep.  

The importance of a good/healthy amount of sleep cannot be overstated.  Poor sleep can lead to an increase in the risk of diabetes, poor weight control and cardiovascular mortality.  If you are not getting the sleep you need, take the steps necessary, including visiting your doctor to discuss this, to obtain better sleep.

According to Hamlet, “To sleep, perchance to Dream”…so, here is Mama Cass singing ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me”.

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