Like eating, sleep is a biological need, and a recommended amount of shut-eye varies from person to person. Some thrive after seven hours, others need at least 10. There is no magic number, but there are guidelines.
The National Sleep Foundation recently updated its recommendations for how much sleep people really need. Adults were split into two groups – 18 to 25 and 26 to 64 years old. The numbers for both categories are between seven and nine.
But the quantity is not all that matters. You can be in bed for 15 hours, but if you wake up every 20 minutes, you won’t be rested at all. This would be considered as less sleep than someone who laid undisturbed for six hours.[slideshow:82801]
“The quality of your sleep just as important, if not more,” Dr. Karl Doghramji, Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, says. It is affected by everything you do, including lifestyle choices, pre-bedtime routine, schedule, eating habits, exercise – or lack thereof – and physical activities.
Why we sleep may be a mystery but one thing is clear: We should not go without it. Sleep deprivation affects your overall health more severely than simply feeling grumpy in the mornings; you gain weight, your learning and problem-solving abilities suffer, you have trouble forming memories, and you’re at risk of developing depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts.
Lack of sleep can become a disorder if you have problems concentrating, you are falling asleep at work, or causing accidents on the job, according to Dr. Doghramji.
Your body doesn’t have to be in a chronic state of producing less melatonin, the hormone and antioxidant secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm.