Sleep is something that can fall down the pecking order when it comes to our health.
Getting enough snooze is important for various reasons, including brain function, physical health and all important recharging, The Sun reports.
Psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Lindsay Browning, said not getting enough slumber can have a negative impact on our productivity, immunity and well being.
Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can also be associated with increased health risks including depression, anxiety, obesity, heart disease, dementia and certain types of cancers.
Not only this, but when your sleep suffers, you may feel more moody and emotional than normal, Dr Browning.
But how much sleep do we actually need for each stage of our lives?
Dr Browning, who is the sleep expert at And So To Bed, said teenagers should be getting a minimum of between eight and 10 hours sleep each day.
“Teenagers often get much less sleep than they need, this may be because they have far too many distractions such as tablets or TV’s, overscheduled daily routines, and sometimes little supervision.
“Also, important changes happen to the circadian rhythm of teenagers making them more likely to have sleep loss,” she said.
When children reach their teenage years, their circadian rhythm (which is their internal 24 hour clock) starts to change to move later, the expert explained.
“This change makes them produce melatonin (the sleep hormone) later than in younger children and in adults.
“This is why teenagers can be perceived as “lazy” when they sleep in until noon. In teenagers, their circadian rhythm actually changes to make them want to go to bed much later (which is why they may want to stay up until say 1 or 2am) and then, they may sleep in until 10/11am to get enough sleep.
“However, even if they go to bed late, school will still start at the same time in the morning, meaning that they can’t sleep-in, leading to teens often not getting enough sleep and being sleep-deprived,” Dr Browning added.
Once you move into your early 20s it’s likely you’ll need less sleep than teenagers – but a little more than older adults.
Dr Browning said that this is in part because the brain is still developing up to approximately age 25.
“It is recommended that most young adults in their 20s should be getting around 7-9 hours of good sleep,” she said.
However, many people in this age range don’t get enough snooze because they are prioritising new work commitments and a busy social life.
“It’s important that while you enjoy your active social lives in your early 20s, you also take time to slow down and think about what the lack of sleep might be doing to your health.
“Also, to understand the impact of “social jet lag” where weekend and weekday bedtime and wake times may be very different,” Dr Browning added.
For people in their 30s, seven to nine hours per night is still the recommended amount of sleep, Dr Browning said.
“By the time you hit your 30s, your brain is fully developed, meaning the brain requires a little less rest than it did prior. In your 30s it is likely that you have left behind the sleep habits of your early 20s self, but you may now be entering a period of new bedtime-related issues.
“This stage of our lives is usually when stress from work, finances and raising a family all start to kick in,” she said.
If work and stress are keeping you up at night, Dr Browning said you should try and give your mind time to wind down before you hop into bed.
“The same applies to mobile usage, often the content on our phones can be over stimulating, both positively and negatively.
“Plus, the bright light emitted by our phones reduces the production of the sleep hormone melatonin which can affect our ability to get to sleep,” she added.
Dr Browning said that for people in their 40s, seven to nine hours snooze each night is also recommended.
“More than 10 hours is often considered oversleeping and less than six is insufficient.
“Although at this age most people would have achieved some of the life goals they set themselves, there are many other factors which can cause sleep to be affected in your fourth decade, for example premenopause for women and the dreaded midlife crisis,” she said.
The expert added that menopause hits many women after 40 and said that this could create sleep issues.
For men, testosterone is also reduced, which can negatively impact the amount of quality sleep they get, she added.
5. FIFTIES AND BEYOND
Despite most people thinking you need much less sleep the older you get, the recommended amount of sleep is still seven to nine hours, Dr Browning said.
The reality is that as we age, the amount we need to sleep is similar to what we require as young adults, the expert said.
“You may start finding you actually fall asleep and wake up earlier the older you get.
“Sleep in your 50s and over is important as ageing can bring along health problems, many of which can affect sleep patterns and vice versa,” she said.
Conditions that can are commonly related to poor sleep in older people include depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, she said. “Further, conditions that cause discomfort and pain, such as arthritis or back pain can make falling asleep and staying asleep harder,” she added.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission.
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