How Much Sleep Is Enough?


Sleep is essential to your overall health. Take it from a gal who doesn’t catch near enough z’s each night, a lack of sleep leaves you feeling drowsy when it is least convenient (like when stopped at a red light next to a police officer who is watching you with a funny look on his face because your eyelids just WON’T stay open). Not enough beautyrest also leaves you susceptible to every little bug or virus that comes along (like pink eye…three times in  one month. I owe my cute kiddos a great big thanks for that much fun in such a short time frame), it hinders your body’s repair and recovery from your daily activities (meaning that pesky shoulder injury is back and just won’t heal), and leaves you grouchy when the kids want to go outside and have a snowball fight that you know will  only last a whopping 5 minutes and then they will all want to come back inside (dragging snow onto the carpet and piling up all their wet coats, gloves, scarves, boots and most likely their pants too) and then they will demand homemade hot cocoa with cinnamon and marshmallows and a warm bath too… Hmmm, not that I would know firsthand or have any personal  experience  when it comes to this particular topic…

In a much more clinical study than my own life can provide,  data has been shown that a lack of sleep actually changes the way the body handles glucose leading to a form of insulin resistance (a.k.a. pre-diabetes). Not enough time spent getting shut eye also has a negative effect on appetite, altering the body’s regulation, leading to overeating and/or food choices that will eventually lead to obesity.

So if a lack of sleep leads to all the aforementioned nastiness, what  are the positive benefits of  getting enough sleep?

  • mental function
  • alertness
  • memory consolidation
  • mood regulation
  • overall physical health

Did you know that the amount of sleep your body requires depends upon your age, gender and current stage of development? Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. In fact, fewer than six hours or more than nine hours each night in adults has been associated with poor cardiometabolic health. Not good. Just to give you an idea, here’s a list of the recommended daily hours of sleep people need at the different stages of their lives:


  • Infants (younger than 11 months): 14 to 15 hours of sleep
  • Toddlers: 12 to 14 hours of sleep
  • Preschoolers: 11 to 13 hours of sleep
  • Children: 10 to 11 hours of sleep
  • Adults: 7 to 8 hours of sleep
  • Teens: 8 to 9 hours of sleep
  • Older adults: 7 to 9 hours of sleep


Women and Sleep

While it is true that most men and women need about the same amount of sleep nightly, women tend to sleep more.   Most women experience a much lighter sleep that is easily disrupted (because you never know when the 3 year old is going to walk into your bedroom in the middle of the night and whisper the words, “Mommy, I don’t feel good.” and then proceed to throw up on you). Other than the 3 year old, there are some other problems that affect women’s sleep patterns. They include depression, major life events (such as divorce, death of a loved one, rape and other types of abuse), pregnancy, hormonal changes related to menopause, sleep disorders (i.e., sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome just to name a few), and medical problems like arthritis and back pain.

Men and Sleep

On the other hand, the issues that cause men to lose sleep include  job-related stress, life issues (regarding marriage/divorce, children, employment, money – or the lack thereof), health  problems like epilepsy and heart disease, sleep disorders, substance abuse, and also depression. Men also tend to take sleep for granted and stay up longer than they should.

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