All About Sleep

The Big Q: How Much Sleep Is Required for Health?

The Big A: Dr. Michael Mosley says that the standard recommendation for adults is to get 7-8 hrs of sleep per night. Teenagers need around 9 hrs, while younger school-age children may need upward of 11 hrs.

While insomnia is 1 reason cited for lack of sleep, there are many other causes as well, including shift work and excessive partying.

Our modern lifestyle, which glamorizes constant Internet connectivity and round-the-clock activity, essentially conspires to keep us awake far longer than is healthy.

How can you tell if you are actually sleep deprived or getting the “right” amount of sleep for you?

Dr. Mosley demonstrates a test that can clue you in. Go to bed in the middle of the afternoon and time how long it takes you to fall asleep. To conduct this sleep onset latency test, all you need is a watch, a metal spoon and a metal tray.

Place the metal tray next to your bed and lay down, holding the spoon in your hand so that when it falls, it will fall onto the tray. Relax. When you start falling asleep, the muscles in your hand will relax, causing the spoon to drop. The clanking will wake you up. Look at your watch. How long did it take you to drift off?

If it takes you more than 15 mins, you are getting enough sleep. If you fall asleep in less than 10 mins, you are moderately sleep deprived. Falling asleep in 5 mins or less is indicative of severe sleep deprivation.

Sleep is not just one long, solid state. Healthy sleep consists of several stages, each stage lasting 5 – 15 mins, with a complete cycle; light, deep and rapid eye movement or REM sleep taking between 90 and 120 mins.

A full sleep cycle starts out in light sleep and progresses through to deep sleep, then reverses back from deep to light sleep before entering REM. You cycle through each of these stages 4-6X during the night, and this cycling is very important, from both a biological and psychological perspective.

Stages 1 and 2 (light sleep; non-REM) — During the initial stages of sleep, biological processes in your body slow down but your brain remains active as it begins the editing process where decisions are made about which memories to store and which to discard.

As noted you drift in and out of consciousness in Stage 1, before ultimately entering Stage 2, at which point your brain waves slow down.

•Stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep; non-REM) — In these deeper sleep stages you enter into a near coma-like state, during which physiological cleansing and detoxification processes in the brain take place.

Your brain cells actually shrink by about 60% during this deep sleep phase. This creates more space in-between the cells, giving your cerebrospinal fluid more space to flush out the debris. Before entering Stage 5 REM sleep, you cycle back into Stage 2.

•Stage 5 (REM) — During this last phase, you enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where dreaming takes place. In this phase, your brain is as active as it is during wakefulness, but your body is paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams.

The frightening experience of sleep paralysis occurs when you awaken during this phase and find your body unresponsive.

The “treatment” for this disorder is knowledge. You just need to be educated about what is happening so that you can calmly ride out the episode, which typically will not last more than a few mins.

Get up and welcome the Sun.

And the coronavirus

Now declared as a pandemic, COVID-19 coronavirus continues to take its toll on people’s health, and thousands have already fallen victim to this mysterious illness. But as the virus spreads quickly, so does the misinformation surrounding it.

In these trying times, you must learn to separate fact from fiction so you can take the right measures to safeguard your health. You can follow the facts daily right here on LTN. The Coronavirus click here please.

Have a healthy week, stay home, get some good sleep