How Many Hours Should You Sleep?

· April 2, 2019
What happens if you don't sleep and how many hours should you sleep? Well, this article will discuss all of this and more.

“There’s so much to do and so little time…but if I go to bed late and wake up early, I’ll get some more time to do things.”  How often do you steal time from your sleeping hours?  At first it seems OK, but sooner or later, perhaps a few days later, you may find yourself exhausted. You can’t concentrate, you forget things, and your skin even looks damaged. Worst of all, you don’t understand why. Well, in spite of what some people assume, sleeping is time well spent. So how many hours should you sleep?

And sleeping just two or three hours isn’t enough.  The body needs a certain number of hours a day to rest, recover, and perform different metabolic and regenerative functions. In this article, we answer the question of How many hours should you sleep?

Why do we sleep?

Woman sleeping with a newspaper.

Transitioning form waking hours to sleep is a natural and cyclical process, during which time hormone secretion changes, along with the metabolism and cardiovascular, respiratory, and thermoregulatory (body temperature) functions change. Sleep is divided into five stages which could vary throughout the night.

Sleep stages

1) Drowsiness or sleepiness

This first stage lasts only a few minutes.  This is the stage in which you are going to sleep, but any sort of noise, regardless of how quiet, could wake you up.  The body begins to relax and may begin to create slow, intermittent eye movements.

Also Read: What to do if You Wake up at Night

2) Light sleep

This is one of the strangest stages of sleep, because people can talk to you and you may respond, but the following day you won’t remember what happened.  The body continues to relax.

3-4) Slow-wave or deep sleep

Stages 3 and 4 make up slow-wave or deep sleep, where muscle tone is reduced, breathing rate slows, blood pressure changes, and heart rate slows down. Gastrointestinal activity increases.  During this stage of sleep, the secretion of growth hormones slightly increases (especially during puberty), as well as the secretion of gonadotropin hormones (FSH and LH). These hormones are responsible for ovulation and the creation of sperm, respectively.

See Also: How to Regulate Hormones Through Exercise

5) REM sleep

This stage involves rapid eye movements and muscle contraction in the middle ear. This is the stage in which dreams are made.  There is a lot of brain activity, irregular increases in cardiorespiratory rate, a drop in body temperature, and increase in the secretion of prolactin (which influences progesterone), penile erection, and clitoris stiffness.

As you can see, each stage of sleep is fundamental for the body to rest and recover after a day of activity. The hormones released during this period noticeably influence your general state, while the culmination of the digestive process allows nutrients to be absorbed for energy.

How many hours should you sleep?

How many hours should you sleep.

The amount of hours that you need to sleep could vary by age, but according to several studies, with the exception of newborns and small children, you should sleep 8 hours in order to reach your maximum potential the following day. There are several sleeping disorders that exist, but generally people don’t pay attention to sleeping poorly until the consequences become serious. Below, we’re going to talk about a few of these consequences.

Consequences of not sleeping enough:

Exhaustion

Not sleeping enough leads to exhaustion, it increases stress levels and promotes toxin accumulation. Your body may have trouble responding appropriately the following day. You will feel tired, slow and very sleepy.

Illness

Lack of sleep causes metabolic disorders that attack healthy.  The most worrisome of all is that it raises the probability of suffering from cardiovascular problems, hypertension and diabetes.

Memory and creativity

Not sleeping enough prevents the brain from organizing and recording information that it receives throughout the day. That’s why it may promote memory alterations, reduction in concentration, changes in mood, irritability, behavioral and learning problems, and depression.

Infections

Not sleeping enough could repress the immune system, making you more susceptible to attacks by bacteria and viruses.

Aesthetics

You can often notice a lack of rest in your appearance. Your skin may look less youthful because the cells are not regenerating properly.

Eyes

You need to sleep to rest your eyes. If not, your eyes will be red, you’ll, get bags under your eyes, and may experience vision problems.

Breathing

If you don’t sleep enough, you could affect cellular oxygenation.

Weight loss

When the body doesn’t rest enough, it tends to accumulate fats, especially in the abdominal region. A well-rested body helps maintain ideal weight. Sleep can even promote eight loss, as it influences the appetite and nutrient absorption.

Always care for yourself

Remember that sleeping well, for the recommended 8 hours, will provide numerous benefits.  Not only will you rest, but you will also:

  • Restore energy levels needed to face the day.
  • Reduce stress and regenerate brain cells.  This will make you feel more awake the following day, and more capable of learning and memorizing.
  • Activate your immune system and promote good antibody production. In other words, you’ll get sick less.
  • Stimulate sex cell production.
  • Regenerate body tissues, especially those of the skin.
  • And if you want a long and healthy life, there’s nothing better than sleeping enough every day, physical exercise, and a balanced diet. According to experts, that is the secret.

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Mônico-Neto, M., Dáttilo, M., Ribeiro, D. A., Lee, K. S., de Mello, M. T., Tufik, S., & Antunes, H. K. M. (2017). REM sleep deprivation impairs muscle regeneration in rats. Growth Factors. https://doi.org/10.1080/08977194.2017.1314277

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