There is a strong relationship between sleep and proper recovery from physical activity. The recommended amount of sleep varies with age across the life span. Infants sleep on average 70% of the day whereas adolescents require much less sleep, more reflective of the adult sleep structure. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep for healthy individuals:
For newborns between 14 and 17 hours, infants between 12 and 15 hours, toddlers between 11 and 14 hours, preschoolers between 10 and 13 hours, and school-aged children between 9 and 11 hours. For teenagers, 8 to 10 hours was considered appropriate, 7 to 9 hours for young adults and adults, and 7 to 8 hours of sleep for older adults.
In adults, less than 6hrs of sleep per day has been associated with adverse short-term health effects such as deficits in cognition, vigilance, memory, mood, behaviour, ability to learn, immune function, and general performance. From diabetes to depression, continuous lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can lead to developing chronic diseases which may otherwise be preventable with adequate rest.
Research shows that one 8-hour sleep can have positive effects on bad behaviours that occur due to sleep deprivation. Whereas larger behavioural issues can be restored within 2 consecutive nights of undisturbed sleep (8-hours).
Sleep is also important on a cellular level. It has been argued that sleep is a restorative process affecting both molecular and cellular network changes. The level of intensity of the activities performed during waking hours largely impacts the amount of sleep needed for adequate recovery; the higher the activity intensity, the greater the quality of sleep required to recovery.
Some of the most prevalent factors related to sleep disruption include: shift work, a diet strongly based on snacking rather than individual meals, and elevated stress levels in combination with poor coping skills.
Combatting these undesirable outcomes requires education surrounding sleep hygiene and emphasis on the importance of quality sleep. Here are some tips to help optimize those precious nighttime hours:
- End screen time 30 minutes before bed.
- Avoid caffeine 2 hours before bed.
- Decrease the room temperature to approximately 17°C.
- Eliminate unnecessary sources of light.
- Have a consistent wake-up time.
Talk to your health care professional about exploring your options related to improving your sleep health.