Sleep is one of the physiologic needs of people and it serves as the body’s means to recuperate from the daily stress and activities. It allows for efficient cellular repair, tissue growth, normal growth and development and healthy mental and emotional functioning. Sleep is needed both by adults and children and it is very important to have adequate quantity as well as quality of sleep. But the question is how much should you sleep daily?

The daily amount of sleep required generally depends on the age of a person. Younger children require more sleep because they experience a great deal of growth and development. Infants sleep at most 22 hours a day and only wake up during feeding. For toddlers and other young children, the optimum amount of sleep is at least 10 to 12 hours to aid their growing bodies and their fast metabolic rate. Optimum sleep for children enables the pituitary gland to work more in producing growth hormones helping children to develop their bodies better.

For adults, the optimal amount of sleep is seven to eight hours a night. This amount of sleep is sufficient to help the mind and body recuperate from the day’s work. On the other hand, the elderly have changes in their sleep-wake cycle and generally wake up earlier than the rest of the population with an average of 5 hours a day of sleep.

While the amount of sleep is important, the quality of sleep is seen as a more essential factor for the body. Even though you had 12 hours of sleep, you may not get optimum benefits if you sleep late at night or you had an interrupted sleep. The key to achieving optimum rest involves sleeping at the right time, at the right circumstance and with the right amount.

The suggested time for sleep for better quality is two to three hours before midnight: that is 9 to 10 pm with a wake cycle at 5 to 6 am. If you sleep an hour past 12 midnight and wake up at 9 am, you won’t get the same benefits as sleeping earlier regardless if you had slept for more than eight hours because the body is scheduled to rest at the right time.  In the same line, even if you sleep at the right time and completed 8 hours of sleep, but you had frequent sleep interruptions, you won’t get the optimal benefits of sleep.

So the real deal with getting the right amount of sleep is to sleep at the right time, get the optimum amount and make sure that you sleep soundly without interruptions. If you are unable to meet these sleep requirements, you may experience the following effects:

  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Poor memory
  • Irritability or restlessness at work or in school
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor tissue repair
  • Altered comfort and sleep pattern
  • Poor diet (may lead you to eat more)

Sleep indeed is a major predictor of overall health. Make sure to get the right amount of rest and employ sleep measures to get the right quantity and quality of sleep.