Sleep, getting the rest you need

Sleep is one of the most important parts of our day.  Sadly for many people sleep is robbed from us in favor of other activities, or we do sleep poorly that we can’t get the benefit from sleep that we need.  Like most of the blogs in this series, there is not a one size fits all approach to sleep.  There is a general guideline, that you need to get the amount and quality of sleep you need for who you are.  This might change over time too, but it is important to be in tune with your body to know when you are getting enough sleep, getting the rest you need.

Benefits of Sleep

Sleep helps you body heal through the release of melatonin, takes pressure off your skeletal system since gravity’s effect on your body is minimal when you are lying prone, and it aids in weight loss.  Sleep increases collagen, and flatulence and decreases your heart rate.  All of these things work together to keep your systems healthy.

Length of Sleep

The topic of the amount of sleep needed is one that has garnered significant debate.  This chart below is from the National Sleep Foundation and is what their panel of experts has deemed appropriate for the different age groups.

Expert panel recommended sleep durations.
Age Recommended, h May be appropriate, h Not recommended, h

0-3 mo

14 to 17 11 to 13

18 to 19

Less than 11

More than 19


4-11 mo

12 to 15 10 to 11

16 to 18

Less than 10

More than 18


1-2 y

11 to 14 9 to 10

15 to 16

Less than 9

More than 16


3-5 y

10 to 13 8 to 9


Less than 8

More than 14

School-aged children

6-13 y

9 to 11 7 to 8


Less than 7

More than 12


14-17 y

8 to 10 7


Less than 7

More than 11

Young adults

18-25 y

7 to 9 6

10 to 11

Less than 6

More than 11


26-64 y

7 to 9 6


Less than 6

More than 10

Older adults

≥65 y

7 to 8 5 to 6


Less than 5

More than 9


Your personal experience may or may not match with this data.  What is important is that if you are feeling deprived of sleep, that you strive for the recommended amount of sleep on this chart.  If you are already getting plenty of sleep and still feel deprived of sleep, schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss your sleep patterns.

Time of Day

When is the most beneficial time of day to sleep?  This is a tough question.  When you work swing shift or nights, clearly your ideal time will be different than what many experts recommend.  For day shift workers it is not so much the amount of hours but when you take those hours.  Generally going to sleep between 9pm and midnight is the best time to sleep.  this allows for an early morning wake-up and a full night of sleep.  You may need more or less sleep keeping a different schedule, but you should seek to get the same benefits form sleep that are recommended.