A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind. Not getting enough sleep can lead to lethargy, fatigue, reduced energy levels and productivity during the day. Besides insufficient sleep is one of the risk factors for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. While children below the age of 2 require 11-14 hours of sleep, adults on an average are advised to sleep for 7-9 hours while for elderly the recommendation is around 6-8 hours of sleep. (Also read: Do you feel sleepy post lunch? Eat this spice to boost energy levels instantly)
Importance of sleep
Dr Santosh Bangar, Senior Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, Global Hospital, Parel, Mumbai says that it’s not just the duration of sleep that is the hallmark of a sound sleep but other parameters like good quality, appropriate timing and the absence of sleep orders are equally important.
“Not getting enough sleep at night is generally associated with daytime sleepiness, tiredness, depressed mood, poor daytime functioning, and other health and safety related problems. For example, habitual short sleep duration has been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, depression and various forms of cancer,” says Dr Bangar.
What happens when kids don’t get enough sleep
Lack of restorative sleep can compromise the physical and emotional health of children and interfere with normal growth and development. The American Academy of Paediatrics estimates that 10% of children in the United States have some form of a sleep issue.
“Untreated sleep disorders can become chronic, lead to underachievement at school. Difficulty getting up in the morning, irritability, hyperactivity, depression, impatience, mood swings, impulse control issues, and aggressive behaviour are more subtle indications,” says Dr Bangar.
Do elderly need to sleep less?
Research suggests that the need for sleep may not change with age, but it is the ability to get the needed sleep that decreases with age. This decreased ability to sleep in older adults is often secondary to their comorbidities and related medications (polypharmacy).
Dr Vivek Anand Padegal, Director – Pulmonology, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road says the quality of sleep we receive as we become older can decrease.
“In the elderly, nocturnal pain is a common cause of poor sleep quality. Insomnia, restless legs syndrome, which causes leg movements that disrupt sleep, midnight urination, as well as sleep apnea are all prevalent problems that might interfere with sleep, causing discomfort,” says Dr Padegal.
Sleep patterns and distribution undergo significant quantitative and qualitative changes in elderly, says Dr Bangar. According to the expert, older adults tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep.
Recommended sleep for children, adults and elderly
|Age||Recommended hours of sleep|
|Older adults||Above 60||6-8|
Dr Bangar also suggested effective sleep hygiene tips for adults, elderly as well as kids:
* Avoid daytime naps
* Reduce food and drink with high caffeine and sugar content, especially in the evening.
* Encourage quiet activities such as reading a book or listening to relaxing music.
* Avoid exercising 3 hours before bedtime.
* Use the bedroom for sleep only, not for watching TV, or eating.
* Make the bedroom ambience cool, dark, and quiet.
* Remove smartphones, video games, and computers from the child’s bedroom and set curfews on their use.
* Keep sleep and wake-up times consistent during the week.