This article has been researched and written by Arelang Naturals® in-house writers.
Sleep is a fundamental aspect of human life, yet its importance is overlooked in our fast-paced, 24/7 go-go-go society. While some people boast about functioning on minimal sleep of 4-5 hours a night, the truth is that adequate rest is crucial for overall health and well-being. In this blog, we will delve into the science behind sleep and explore the million dollar question: how much sleep do we humans need?
Sleep is the cornerstone of good health and well-being. It provides the necessary physical and mental rejuvenation to take on each day. However, determining how much sleep we need can be a complex question. Sleep is not merely a luxury. Being well-rested is not just a fad. It is the most fundamental pillar of good health. While we get a little shut-eye, our body engages in critical processes such as tissue repair, hormone regulation, and memory consolidation. Without sufficient sleep, several physical and mental well-being activities can be hampered. It is essential to prioritise sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The amount of healthy sleep hours required, varies depending on our age and other factors. Infants, for instance, need the most amount of sleep, averaging around 14-17 hours per day. As children grow older, their sleep needs gradually decrease. For adults, how many hours of sleep is required is typically between 7-9 hours in 24 hours. However, individual variations exist, and some adults may require slightly more or less sleep to function optimally. It is important to pay attention to sleep time by age, quality of sleep, personal sleep patterns and adjust accordingly.
The recommended sleep duration for adults has been a topic of scientific investigation for years, with experts attempting to ascertain the optimal amount of sleep required for optimal functioning. Numerous studies have indicated that getting less than seven hours of sleep per night can have detrimental effects on various aspects of health. Inadequate sleep has been linked to impaired cognitive abilities, decreased concentration, and reduced memory retention. Lack of quality sleep not only affects cognitive functioning but also hampers our ability to regulate emotions effectively, leading to mood swings and heightened stress levels.
Sleeping well is crucial and here is why:
Restoration and Healing: Sleep serves as a critical period for the body to repair and restore itself. During sleep, the body undergoes numerous restorative processes, including tissue repair, muscle growth, and the release of growth hormones. Adequate sleep supports immunity, enhances wound healing, and helps regulate metabolism, contributing to optimal physical health.
Cognitive Function and Memory: Sleep plays a crucial role in cognitive processes, such as learning, memory consolidation, and problem-solving. Research has shown that sleep facilitates the transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory storage, for better retention and recall. It also enhances attention, creativity, decision-making, and overall cognitive function.
Regulation of Neurotransmitters:
- Melatonin: Melatonin, often referred to as the "sleep hormone," is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It plays a major role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. Melatonin levels increase in the evening, signaling to the body that it is time to prepare for sleep. It helps regulate the body's internal clock and promotes the onset and maintenance of sleep.
- GABA Pathways: Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. Activated GABA pathways help in sleep regulation by inhibiting wake-promoting centers in the brain. GABA neurons help induce sleep and maintain continuity, ensuring uninterrupted slumber.
- Serotonin: Serotonin, known as the "feel-good" hormone, or the happy hormone, has a multifaceted role in sleep regulation. It helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and promotes the onset of sleep. Serotonin also helps with mood regulation, anxiety reduction, and the prevention of depression, all of which can impact the way you get in your zzzzs.
Hormonal Regulation: Sleep is intricately linked to hormonal balance. Inadequate sleep can disrupt the essential balance of the hormone scales involved in appetite regulation, leading to an increased risk of weight gain and obesity. Leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite, decreases with sleep deprivation, while ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger, increases. Consequently, poor sleep can contribute to overeating and metabolic dysregulation.
Mental Health and Emotional Well-being: Sleep and mental health are closely intertwined. Chronic sleep deprivation or poor-quality sleep can increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Sleep provides the brain with an opportunity to process emotions and regulate mood. A restful night's sleep promotes emotional resilience, enhances coping mechanisms, and fosters overall emotional well-being.
On the other hand, excessive sleep can also have negative consequences. Oversleeping has been associated with an increased risk of certain health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular malfunction. It is essential to balance that sleep scale and avoid both too little and too much sleep.
What's more important - Quality or Duration of sleep?
While healthy sleep hours are important, the quality of sleep is just as crucial. The sleep cycle consists of multiple stages, including light sleep, deep sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each stage serves a specific purpose in restoring and rejuvenating the body and mind. Disruptions in these sleep stages can lead to feelings of grogginess, fatigue, anxiety, and depression, even if the total sleep duration seems like it was just enough. While melatonin pills seem like the best bet to get in a good night's sleep, it is important to identify that chemical melatonin supplements make your body dependent on external sources and the body's function forgets how to create its own. It is essential to supplement with natural sources of melatonin like Caim by Arelang's natural plant-based, Restore Your Sleep chocolate supplements.
Various factors can impact sleep quality. Environmental conditions, such as noise, light, and temperature, play a crucial role in creating a conducive sleep environment. Additionally, lifestyle habits, such as caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercise patterns, and electronic device usage before bedtime, can significantly affect the minimum hours of sleep you can get. Creating a sleep-friendly environment and practicing good sleep hygiene, such as unwinding, finding a nighttime routine, and a regular sleep schedule can help enhance sleep quality and ensure a night's sleep that will restore your body.
Sleep - the foundation for great health
As mentioned earlier, sleep is not just a spa night every night; it is the foundation of good health and overall well-being. Research has shown that both the minimum required hours of sleep and healthy sleep hours play vital roles in maintaining optimal physical and mental functioning.
The minimum required hours of sleep refer to the absolute minimum hours of sleep needed for basic functioning and preventing sleep deprivation-related issues. While the exact number can vary among individuals, most adults require a minimum of seven healthy sleep hours per night to avoid the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. Falling below this threshold regularly can lead to a range of problems, including impaired cognitive performance, decreased alertness, increased risk of accidents, compromised immune function, mood disturbances, difficulty in processing emotions, and a higher likelihood of developing chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.
To ensure you get a good night's sleep, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Embrace a Bedtime Adventure: Instead of thinking of bedtime as a mundane routine, approach it as an exciting way to unwind and indulge in some self-care. You can wear pajamas that make you feel good or choose bedding that is cozy and comfortable. Read a book, light some candles, cuddle with your dogs, indulge in aromatherapy, dab a little calming oil on the pillow, and listen to some calming music. The options are endless. But creating a routine that you look forward to every night, is a good place to start.
- Indulge in a Bedtime Story: Rediscover the joy of flipping paperbacks by incorporating it into your bedtime routine. Choose books that spark your imagination and transport you to magical worlds - not too heavy, something light. If you prefer, you can also listen to audiobooks or podcasts that captivate your interest. Let your imagination run wild as you drift off to sleep with the help of captivating tales.
- Have a Pillow Fight (Gently now!): Release your inner child and have a playful pillow fight before bed. Grab some soft pillows and engage in a gentle and fun pillow fight with a loved one or even with yourself. This light-hearted activity can help release any built-up tension, promote laughter, and create a sense of relaxation. Just make sure to keep it gentle and avoid any risk of injury.
- Try natural supplements: Your body needs adequate melatonin to induce deep sleep. Chemical melatonin supplements are a huge deterrent to your body in which sense, in the long run, they affect your body's ability to naturally create melatonin. For this, opt for natural plant-based supplements like Restore Your Sleep from Caim by Arelang made with tryptophan extracted from walnuts, which helps promote melatonin production and help you get a restful night’s sleep.
- Plan a Pillow Fort: Rekindle the joy of childhood by building a cozy pillow fort in your bedroom. Gather pillows, blankets, and sheets to construct a comfortable and whimsical fort. Crawl inside with your favorite stuffed animals or a loved one and enjoy the cozy atmosphere. It's a delightful way to create a sense of playfulness and make your sleep environment feel like a secret hideaway. Remember, the goal is to make your sleep routine enjoyable and something to look forward to. Unwind, get creative, and find activities that bring joy, relaxation, and a touch of whimsy to your bedtime rituals. All you need is to infuse a little fun into your sleep routine. Sleep tight and have sweet dreams!