Sleep is the balm that soothes and restores after a long day of work and play. Sleep is largely driven by the body’s internal clock that takes cues from external elements such as sunlight and temperature. The body’s natural sleep-and-wake cycle is reasonably attuned to regularity over a 24-hour period, and disruptions of sleep are disruptive to functioning of many body systems; learning, memory, stamina, general health, and mood are all affected by sleep amount and quality. For many people, sleep is elusive or otherwise troubled. In fact, most people, at some point in their lives, experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. The consequences of poor sleep include obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, just to name a few. Sleep deprivation also, of course, affects judgement and mental acuity, among other cognitive tasks. However, every person is different. One person may be able to function on less sleep, while another person may need a full eight hours. The good news is that treatment of sleep disorders is rapidly progressing, with new advances developing every month.
The Right Amount of Sleep
Based on continuing research, the National Sleep Foundation offers recommendations on the amount of sleep needed for people of different age groups. These are general guidelines, based on averages; some people can’t function on less shut-eye and others can. Many factors, from being overweight to the use of caffeine influence sleep amount. The foundation provides these daily sleep guidelines: