Sleeping for Health and Beauty
Getting enough sleep is an often overlooked key to being healthy. Although people’s individual sleep needs vary, most adults still need about 8 hours of sleep a night. Some adults seem to be fine with less sleep, and others need more than 8 hours in order to feel well rested.
The average child needs about 11 hours of sleep although the need is different from one individual to another. In general, sleep need decreases as the age increases, going from about 9 hours during the teen years to about 6 hours during the senior years.
Taking one or more naps doesn’t make up for lost hours of sleep, even if the total hours of napping add up to 8 hours. This is because the best sleep includes a period during which the person sleeping has rapid eye movement (also called REM sleep). It takes a few hours of sleep to reach the REM state. It is also important for the person to stay in REM sleep for some time. If the person has to get up from a nap, the period of REM sleep may have been too short. Also, if he or she returns to napping later, that nap might not last long enough for REM sleep to occur.
Not having enough sleep can result in one or more of the following conditions:
- increased irritability
- less concentration at work or school
- more likely to have an automobile accident
- more likely to have some other accident
- weakened immune system
It’s important to see your doctor if you have had a change in your normal sleeping pattern, or routinely have difficulty sleeping (insomnia). They could both be signals of an important medical problem.