Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How much sleep do you REALLY need? Experts compile the definitive snooze chart revealing how much shut eye you require at every stage of life

We spend around a third of our lives asleep.
Not only is the weekend lie in the stuff of your weekday dreams, but sleep, along with food, water and oxygen, is essential for human survival.
And the amount of shut eye a person gets each night, provides a vital indicator of their overall health.
But it seems some of us aren't getting enough time between the sheets.
A new study, by experts at the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in the US, has recommended children aged four months to 17 years old need more sleep than was previously advised.

Past studies have found a lack of sleep can increase a person's risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, shortening life expectancy.  
In order to determine exactly how much sleep a person needs at each stage of their life, a team of 18 specialists from sleep, anatomy and physiology, as well as paediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynaecology convened to form an expert panel.
The scientists at the NSF in the US worked for two years to produce the most up-to-date guidance.

 And their findings revealed children from the age of four months to 17 years old need more sleep than was previously thought.
The report states: 'Importantly, the panel emphasised that some individuals might sleep longer or shorter than the recommended times with no adverse effects.
'However, individuals with sleep durations far outside the normal range may be engaging in volitional sleep restriction or have serious health problems.
'An individual who intentionally restricts sleep over a prolonged period may be comprising his or her health and well-being.'
The panel recommend:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14 to 17 hours a day - previously it was 12 to 18
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12 to 15 hours - previously it was 14 to 15
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11 to 14 hours - previously it was 12 to 14
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10 to 13 hours - previously it was 11 to 13
  • School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9 to 11 hours - previously it was 10 to 11
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8 to 10 hours - previously it was 8.5 to 9.5
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7 to 9 hours - new age category
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7 to 9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7 to 8 hours - new age category

Charles Czeisler, chair of the board of the NSF and chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said: 'This is the first time that any professional organisation has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety.

The expert panel said following simple yet effective advice it is possible to improve sleeping habits.
They include:
* Sticking to a regular sleep schedule - even at the weekend 
* Practising a relaxing bedtime ritual
* Exercising daily 
* Switching off all technology some time before going to bed

'The NSF is providing these scientifically grounded guidelines on the amount of sleep we need each night to improve the sleep health of the millions of individuals and parents who rely on us for this information. 
'As the voice for sleep health it is the NSF's responsibility to make sure that our recommendations are supported by the most rigourous science.
'Individuals, particularly parents, rely on us for this information.'
Max Hirshkowitz, chair of the NSF Scientific Advisory Council, added: 'The public can be confident that these recommendations represent the best guidance for sleep duration and health.' 
David Cloud, chief executive of the NSF, added: 'The NSF sleep duration recommendations will help individuals make sleep schedules that are within a healthy range. 
'They also serve as a useful starting point for individuals to discuss their sleep with their health care providers.' 
The study was published in Sleep Health: The Official Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.