As you can see, sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. Thus, to determine how much sleep you need, it's important to assess not only where you fall on the "sleep needs spectrum," but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stress. To get the sleep you need, you must look at the big picture.
Though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep need by people at different ages, the preceding table identifies the "rule-of-thumb" amounts most experts have agreed upon. Nevertheless, it's important to pay attention to your own individual needs by assessing how you feel on different amounts of sleep. Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear? Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease? Are you experiencing sleep problems? Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day? Do you feel sleepy when driving? These are questions that must be asked before you can find the number that works for you.
To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, begin by assessing your own individual needs and habits. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health after a poor night's sleep versus a good one. Ask yourself, "How often do I get a good night's sleep?" If the answer is "not often", then you may need to consider changing your sleep habits or consulting a physician or sleep specialist. When Ellen's family members began this process, they realized that often they weren't getting what they would call a "good night's sleep." This led each of them to re-evaluate how much sleep they needed and whether their sleep habits were healthy ones.
To pave the way for better sleep, experts recommend that you and your family members follow these sleep tips:
•Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
•Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
•Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
•Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
•Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep "sleep stealers" out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)
•Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
•Exercise regularly during the day or at least a few hours before bedtime
•Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking
New Research- Losing sleep for extra study can lead to academic problems
Sacrificing sleep to study can lead to academic problems Regardless of how much a high school student generally studies each day, if that student sacrifices sleep in order to study more than usual, he or she is more likely to have academic problems the following day. Because students tend to increasingly sacrifice sleep time for studying in the latter years of high school, this negative dynamic becomes more and more prevalent over time. Those are the findings of a new longitudinal study that focused on daily and yearly variations of students who sacrifice sleep to study. The research was conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and appears in the journal Child Development.
Sacrificing sleep for extra study time is counterproductive, says Andrew J. Fuligni, professor of psychiatry and bio behavioral sciences and a senior scientist at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, who worked on the study. “Academic success may depend on finding strategies to avoid having to give up sleep to study, such as maintaining a consistent study schedule across days, using school time as efficiently as possible, and sacrificing time spent on other, less essential activities.”
For 14 days in each of the 9th, 10th, and 12th grades, 535 students from several Los Angeles-area high schools reported in diaries how long they studied, how long they slept, and whether or not they experienced two academic problems—they didn’t understand something taught in class or they did poorly on a test, quiz, or homework. The students represented a mix of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.
Although the researchers expected that extra hours of studying that ate into sleep time might create problems in terms of students’ understanding of what they were taught in class, they were surprised to find that diminishing sleep in order to study was actually associated with doing more poorly on a test, quiz, or homework (the opposite of the students’ intent).
As other studies have found, our results indicated that extra time spent studying cuts into adolescents’ sleep on a daily basis, and it is this reduced sleep that accounts for the increase in academic problems that occurs after days of increased studying, Fuligni explained. “Although these nights of extra studying may seem necessary, they can come at a cost.”Fuligni said the study’s findings do not suggest that teens should spend less time studying overall, but that those teens who give up sleep to study more than usual are more likely to have academic problems the following day.