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World Sleep Day 2021: How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need and Why it is Important

(Image: Shutterstock)

(Image: Shutterstock)

Sleep is essential as during this time, the body muscles worn down during the day as well as recharging the brain

March 19, 2021 is World Sleep Day, a day dedicated toward raising awareness about the importance of sleep for a healthy life. This year, the World Sleep Society released the theme and slogan as “Regular Sleep, Healthy Future.” In almost all school books, motivational posters, or health tips passed down from generations—a regular and timely sleeping habit is touted as essential for a healthy life but we still often ignore this very essential element. We follow good diets, work out at the gym, practice yoga to keep our bodies healthy but sleep isn’t something we put too much stock into.

It’s time to change that.

While there is a common adage that everyone needs at least 8 hours of sleep, this statement is a generalisation. Like everybody has different requirements for water intake (yes, 8 glasses of water each day is false), each body requires a different length of sleep depending on age, weight, activity etc. But yes, the generally accepted frame is as follows according to the Sleep Foundation:• 7-9 hours of sleep for adults• 7-8 hours of sleep for people above the age of 65• 9-11 hours in teenagers and preteens• 10-13 hours below 7 years old• Up to 17 hours in babies

However, this is a basic frame for otherwise healthy individuals. Sleep Foundation suggests the number of hours can increase or decrease depending on the kind of activity, any chronic or acute health conditions and so on. Consider these factors when calculating sleep time:• Are you productive, healthy, and happy on X hours of sleep?• Any existing disease? anything that might cause lethargy other than sleep.• Do you expel more energy; i.e. labour intensive job or sports.• Have you been sleepy often during jobs that require alertness?• Caffeine dependency?• When not working, do you tend to sleep more; like Sundays or Holidays? Or is your sleep consistent?

While some people believe they’ve trained themselves to need less sleep, experts believe it’s a myth. “Some people think they are adapting to being awake more, but are actually performing at a lower level. They don’t realize it because the functional decline happens so gradually,” says Cynthia LaJambe, Sleep Expert.

Sleep is essential as during this time, the body muscles worn down during the day as well as recharging the brain. Proper sleep is essential for proper cognitive and behavioral functions.

If you are not sleeping properly, you can have some serious impacts on your physical and mental health. These include increased risk of diabetes, heart, and neurological disorders, anxiety, wrinkles, dark circles, reduced reaction to stimulus, disorientation, etc.