It is bizarre how much emphasis humans put on achieving a balanced diet and exercising regularly, in order to be considered a healthy human being. Yet, ensuring we achieve quality sleep – is always overlooked. Sleep should be prioritised as much, if not more, than a balanced diet and exercise; as a lack of quality sleep can hinder both your diet, and ability to exercise.
We need sleep to survive, and to perform simple daily tasks and functions.
Technology is sky rocketing, we are becoming more dependent on stimulants such as coffee and diet drinks, day to day life is becoming more and more instant and fast paced, and therefore, we need to make a conscious effort to ensure we, and the younger generations after us, are successfully achieving good quality sleep.
Here is a general guide for the number of hours of quality sleep you should be getting every night:
- New-borns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months):Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years):Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Pre-schoolers (3-5):Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School age children (6-13):Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17):Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25):Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64):Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+):Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
As can be seen, the number of hours of sleep required by a human, changes as they get older; but it cannot be argued that in this booming, fast-paced technology era – most of us are probably sleep deprived, and cannot even recognise the signs, and have little memory of what it felt like to be well rested.
If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as interrupted breathing, snoring, sleepiness during the day, extreme fatigue, anxiety, depression, lack of sex drive, irritability, and frequent visits to the toilet during the night or waking with a dry mouth – there could be an underlying condition preventing you from achieving the quality sleep you crucially need – such as sleep apnoea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is when breathing pauses and breathing restrictions repeatedly occur as your upper airway becomes obstructed. This is due to the relaxing of muscles and the subsequent collapse of the tissue surrounding the passageway. Generally preceded by snoring, these pauses and reductions in airflow are often followed by a gasping/choking sound as the brain reacts to the oxygen drop by momentarily waking you from your sleep. This can happen up to one hundred times every hour.
The whole process then repeats regularly as the person drifts off into a deeper sleep only to be aroused again soon after having another apnoea event. The individual is usually completely unaware of all this; rarely do they completely wake up but merely return to a lighter level of sleep. They then wake up still tired, having had little or no quality sleep
If you recognise any of these symptoms – then it worth seeking medical advice or sleep study from your GP or privately. There is treatment available for Sleep Apnoea, which could transform your sleep health, and overall well being. This is called CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and has proved the most effective treatment for Sleep Apnoea.
Sleep is invaluable, and should be prioritised alongside eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.