It’s Sunday morning, 9.30 am. You’ve had nine hours of sleep and are feeling very fresh. Or are you? Do you think you could have slept longer? Even though you’ve had nine hours? Surely that’s adequate?Well, yes and no, say experts. A good night’s sleep has to be measured in terms of quantity and quality. "There are no set standards," says Dr Nevin Kishor, senior consultant, pulmonology, Max Healthcare. "While it is necessary to get adequate hours of sleep, the sleep also needs to be completely restful or you won’t feel refreshed."
A good night’s sleep, as defined by experts, is a sound and deep sleep, without dreams or with dreams you don’t remember when you wake up. Ideally, it should be undisturbed by noise, harsh lights, etc. Just as important, you should sleep like this for six to eight hours. That’s the optimal level of sleep for working adults, says Dr Kishor.
The right doze
Optimal levels of sleep can’t be defined. They vary from individual to individual and depend upon age (see box). But if you don’t allow yourself adequate sleep, you may suffer sleep deprivation.
"There are people who do with fewer hours of sleep than prescribed and yet are full of energy," says Dr Kishor. "If they are not feeling stressed and sleepy and their bodies are not shouting, they are good to go with just a few hours. But most people need a certain amount of sleep to function properly."
A good night’s sleep revitalises the body by revitalising the mind, says chest and sleep specialist Dr Madhusudan Das. “All our physical functions are directly or indirectly related to the mind, i.e., the brain,” he says. Sleep deprivation can cause:
Lapses in memory
Slowing down of mental and physical functionality
Weight gain or loss
Anxiety and irritability
Impaired immune system
Muscle fatigue and pain
These symptoms are most prominent among people aged between 25 to 50 years, says Dr Das. “These are the ‘working years’ when the mind and body function vigorously.”
Optimal sleep hrs
Age Amount of sleep needed
Newborn 18-20 hrs
Infants & toddlers 12-15 hrs
5 – 10 years 10-12 hrs
10 – 15 years 8-10 hrs
15 – 20 years 8-9 hrs
20 – 50 years 6-8 hrs
Above 60 4–6 hrs
Celebs who do not sleep
Music maestro AR Rahman works through the night and sleeps only a few hours in the morning
Amitabh Bachchan is rumoured to sleep only a couple of hours
Vidya Balan is desperately trying to fight weight gain because of lack of sleep
Sonam Kapoor does not sleep the whole night and catches a few naps in the wee hours
Lady Gaga says she doesn’t sleep for nights on end while making music
Shah Rukh Khan does not sleep more than 4-5 hours a day
- From HT Brunch, May 1
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