The Importance of Sleep

Stick figure person in bed snoring

Someone I know has recently suffered from a condition that allowed them to only get about three hours of sleep per night. I can only think that this lack of sleep made it very difficult to function, especially when you remember that sleep is a basic need.

Sleep is a time where our body rests, allowing us to save energy and recharge.  Sleep can lower stress, tension, and anxiety.  Today I wanted to take a quick look at sleep, and hope this helps you to be the best you can be.


How long should we sleep?

Infants and children need more sleep, as that is when growth hormones are released.  Here are some recommendations for all age groups:

  • A newborn needs 14 to 18 hours,
  • Infants – 12 to 14 hours (doesn’t happen all at once as any parent will tell you!),
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours
  • School age children need 10 to 11 hours
  • Teenagers need 8 to 9 hours
  • Adults need 7 to 8 hours
  • Older adults (65 and older) need 5 to 7 hours

What keeps us from Sleeping?

Illness increases your need for sleep, but like my friend that I mentioned earlier, the symptoms of illness can cause you to not get enough sleep.  If you are ill, you need to do the best you can and try to get as much rest as possible.

Woman asleep on computer keyboard while holding a cup of coffee

Some of us (and I might be talking about me now!) may have experienced weight gain with changes to lifestyle due to COVID.  Weight gain actually causes a need for more sleep.  Foods can also cause sleep issues.  Chocolate, non-herbal tea, most soft drinks, and coffee contain caffeine, which inhibits sleep. 

Sleeping pills, and drugs for pain, anxiety, or depression will make you sleepy, but they decrease REM sleep (the period of time when your body gets the most rest), so they can cause you to feel tired, even after a night’s sleep.  This is also true of alcohol.

Stress and emotional issues can also cause sleeplessness. 

Tips for Sleeping

Protein helps sleep – you have probably heard of tryptophan causing sleepiness after a big turkey dinner.  Other foods that can help sleep are milk, cheese, fish, nuts and seeds, and poultry.

Exercise is great for sleep, but exercise just before bed can make it difficult to go to sleep. 

Here is a great 5 minute 30 second video that shares tips on getting the best night sleep you can!

I hope these tips help! Thanks for reading the Faculty Learning Corner.  Have a great weekend!