Why we need sleep

Nearly one-third of an adult’s life is spent sleeping. Although scientists have identified many of the vital processes that take place during sleep, no one has yet determined why these processes cannot take place while we are awake. It is well documented that some people do not sleep much and – unlike most of us – appear not to suffer for it. For these people, sleep is clearly not essential.
While many people insist they can happily get by on a few hours of sleep, sleep experts agree that seven hours is the minimum to ensure energy reserves are rebuilt. The average person sleeps only five or six hours a night, building a sleep deficit that can impair function and cause depression and ongoing feelings of fatigue and stress.

How much sleep do we need?

  • newborns (0 – 2 months)  16 to 18 hours
  • infants (3 months – 1 year) 14 to 15 hours
  • toddlers (1 – 3 years) 12 to 14 hours
  • preschoolers (3 – 5 years) 11 to 13 hours
  • school-aged children (5 – 12 years) 10 to 11 hours
  • teens (12 – 18 years) 8 to 10 hours
  • adults  7 to 9 hours

Sleep scientists are now saying that fatigue can affect the body in much the same way as alcohol, severely impairing judgment, affecting mood, reducing reaction times and performance at work or during athletic activity. A lack of sleep also intensifies the effects of alcohol, making your speech more slurred, and increasing the likelihood of falling.
The primary purpose for sleep appears to be so that the body and mind can repair and recharge for the challenges of the day ahead. This is why people who lack sleep fell lethargic, unable to fully cope, and have increased stress levels. Recent research has determined that loss of sleep can severely impact the emotions, making us tense and fearful.

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