The American playwright Wilson Mizner once said that the amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more. Most of us will agree with that, even without realising that short sleep duration can lead to overweight, mood problems, chronic illness and can even make you feel pain more intensely.
Effects of too little sleep
Too little sleep can seriously influence health and can also be dangerous. Due to the fact that too little sleep affects concentration, you can be at higher risk of having a car or similar accident. Too little sleep also affects memory and performance and increases the risk of developing psychiatric conditions such as depression and substance abuse, as well as chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems and obesity. One study found that short sleep duration can even increase the perception of pain.
The guidelines for the amount of sleep needed per night, or per 24-hour cycle, are as follows:
- Newborns: 12 to 18 hours
- Infants (2 months to 1 year): 14 to 15 hours
- Toddlers ( 1 to 3 years): 12 to14 hours
- Primary school-age children: 10 to 12 hours
- Teenagers: 8 to 9 hours
- Adults: 7 to 9 hours.
Be aware that this serves only as a guide. There is no magic number regarding sleep needs; you are an individual and so are your sleep needs.
Good sleep habits
Good habits that can help you to fall and stay asleep include:
- Establishing a regular sleep cycle: have set bedtimes and wake times
- Avoiding caffeine, sugar and spicy food for 3 to 4 hours before bedtime
- Ensuring the bedroom is a peaceful and comfortable place with the right room temperature and minimum noise and light
- Avoiding exercise for at least one hour before bedtime
- Avoiding screen time for an hour before bedtime.