Often I hear friends, members and staff complain of sleep and what is right and what is wrong. The average person does need anywhere between 5.5 and 8 hours each night. This is bare minimum and as your mental, emotional and physical stress elevates, so should your need for sleep.
1. Anything less than 5 minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.
2. After 5 nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.
3. 10% of snorers have sleep apnea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
4. Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal.
5. Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.
6. 17 hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role. NRMA estimates fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents.
7. To drop off we must cool off; body temperature and the brain’s sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. That’s why hot summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The blood flow mechanism that transfers core body heat to the skin works best between 18 and 30 degrees. But later in life, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23 and 25 degrees – one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.