Just how much sleep you should be getting every night will depend very much on your age and your state of health. However sleep is not just about the time spent sleeping, but is also very much a question of the quality of that sleep. Accordingly, if you are getting enough of sleep and are still waking up every morning feeling tired and going through the day not able to fully concentrate, and perhaps being a bit ill-tempered, then it is very possible that you are not getting enough deep sleep and might well be suffering from insomnia.
As far as age is concerned, newborn babies clearly need the greatest amount of sleep and will generally sleep in cycles of around four hours, waking when it is time to be fed and changed. On average, a newborn baby requires in the region of fourteen to sixteen hours sleep every day.
By the time babies get to the age of approximately four to six months they ough to be sleeping through the night and will start to spend longer periods awake during the day when they will start to take a greater interest in their surroundings and start to play. At this point their requirementneed for sleep will fall somewhat, but they will still require anywhere from about ten to fourteen hours sleep a day.
To most people’s surprise older children and even teenagers should also be getting a similar amount of sleep and ten hours sleep a day for children in general is not a bad figure to aim for.
For a long time it has been said that children, and in particular teenagers, who are sleeping for more than about eight hours every day are simply lazy, however this is in fact not the case. Taking into consideration the amount of activity that most children are involved in every day, both in their spare time and at school, and the fact that their bodies are growing and changing rapidly, there is a very real requirement for more than the traditional eight hours of sleep if they are to enjoy the best possible conditions for their development.
For most adults approximately eight to eight and a half hours of sleep a night is just about right and this should be sufficient to permit the body to recharge its batteries and to see you alert and refreshed every morning.
Another myth is that as we get older we need more sleep. Once again this is not the case, unless there are also accompanying health problems, in which case additional sleep could be needed. A tendency for older individuals to take a nap during the day is usually taken as a sign that they require more sleep but in reality the daytime nap is invariably offset by less sleep during the night.
One exception in the case of adults is that of pregnant women, who should generally increase their sleep during pregnancy by about two or three hours.
The test of whether you are getting enough sleep is a fairly simple one and involves nothing more than judging whether you feel refreshed when you get up in the morning and are able to function normally and focus your attention on things during the day. Should you find yourself unable to focus or doze off during the day then you are probably not getting enough sleep.
Missing out on a few hours of sleep here and there will not do you any harm but if you find that you are frequently missing out on sleep then there could be serious consequences. We all suffer from insomnia occasionally, but insomnia that carries on for more than about a month or six weeks will have a marked affect on your health and general quality of life.