Even Ben Franklin knew the virtues of a good night’s sleep: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Then again, Franklin also held some dubious viewpoints, including one that questioned the bald eagle as the choice for America’s national bird: “He is a Bird of bad moral character.”
It turns out Franklin was right on track with the former statement, if not the latter, as science backs him up. On the path to wellness, sleep is as important as healthy eating and regular exercise.
In a 1999 study by the University of Chicago, a group of healthy young adults was limited to just 4 hours of sleep per night for a week. This resulted in altered hormone levels for some test subjects: Glucose metabolism mirrored that of diabetics, and cortisol — which help the body use glucose and fat — levels matched those of a much older population.
A lack of sleep has been tied to obesity, diabetes, sleep apnea and other issues, including reduced productivity at work. So we know it’s important, but how many hours of sleep do we need?
Sleep Recommendations From the Experts
The National Sleep Foundation has shed some light on this question, issuing updated recommendations recently after consulting with an expert panel of 18 scientists and researchers. Guidelines are broken down by age into three categories: recommended, may be appropriate for some individuals, and not recommended.
(Infographic from http://www.sleepfoundation.org)
Among their daily sleep recommendations:
• Newborns need 14-17 hours of sleep each day
• Infants, between 4-11 months, are recommended to receive 12-15 hours of daily sleep
• Toddlers clock in at 11-14 hours of sleep per day
• Preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep every day
• The sweet spot for children ages 6-13 is 9-11 hours of sleep, while teens require 8-10 hours each night
• Adults (ages 18-64) clock in at 7-9 hours of sleep every night, while older adults may be able to get by on a little less: a recommended 7-8 hours of sleep
Where do you fall on the nightly sleep scale? Do you prioritize your sleep and look forward to diving into your comfy bed each night?
Or are you burning the candle at both ends, letting productivity and proper rest take a backseat to your to-do list?
If you’re operating at a sleep deficit, it’s time to take control. Your health and wellness will thank you.
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