Sleep is the cornerstone of everything that drives our bodies to be as productive as possible. It is also the main driver in keeping us from doubling over in agony from the stresses of life that wear us down on the daily. Sure, some people have been known to operate on less sleep than others, but for the most part, our bodies require a specific amount of sleep (depending on our age) to adequately heal and keep functioning at the high level that we need it to function at. Most people may advise that if you’re not feeling great to just get some more sleep. But if you’re already sick or stressed (or both), that might be easier said than done. If you find that you’re constantly sick and sleep deprived, take the first steps towards getting quality sleep and putting your body on the path to becoming healthy once again.
What is “Quality Sleep”?
Quality sleep was detailed in a recent report by Sleep Health that included the following key determinants:
- Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85% of the total time)
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Waking up no more than once per night; and
- Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
Also, to be considered are the 4 stages of sleep that you get every night:
- Light (50-60% of your sleep)
- REM (20-25% of your sleep)
- Deep (10-25% of your sleep)
- Awake (Less than 10% of your sleep)
If you give yourself enough time to sleep and don’t have any kind of sleep disorder that’s keeping you out of any certain stages of sleep, your body will figure it out using its own rhythms and drives. The most important thing to remember is that the brain is working overtime while you sleep to repair, regulate, and lay down memory and managing brain growth. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, your brain doesn’t get the right amount of nutrients to perform those tasks and keep you healthy and functioning productively.
Although the quality of your sleep plays heavily into how strong your immune system is, you can’t forget about the quantity of sleep. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to get the right amount of sleep per your age group:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours/day
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours/day
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours/day
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours/day
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours/day
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours/day
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours/day
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours/day
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours/day
The one thing to remember is that as we age, getting more than your recommended amount of sleep might be more damaging than getting less quantity sleep. For adults and older adults, getting more than 9 hours of sleep per night can result in poor sleep quality and difficulty falling or staying asleep over time. This can lead to an instability in the circadian rhythm (the body’s 24-hour cycle) which can impair its ability to relay signals in the immune system which can make sleep-deprived people more vulnerable to illness.