Quality sleep is as essential to survival as food and water. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body — from the brain, heart, and lungs to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance. Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including: high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
A person’s need for sleep and sleep patterns change as they age but can vary significantly across individuals of the same age. Babies initially sleep as much as 16 to 18 hours per day, which may boost growth and development (especially of the brain). School-age children and teens on average need about 9.5 hours of sleep per night. Most adults need 7–9 hours of sleep a night. After age 60, nighttime sleep tends to be shorter, lighter, and interrupted by multiple awakenings. Elderly people are also more likely to take medications that interfere with sleep.
Research shows that dreaming is not just a byproduct of sleep, but serves its own important functions in our well being. It is believed that dreaming provides essential emotional first aid and enhances creativity and problem solving.
What are dreams?
Dreams are subconscious imaginings that contain sounds, images, and other sensations while a person sleeps. Dreams happen most often during REM (rapid eye moment) sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep. This stage occurs in intervals that can last anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes. A person cycles through REM sleep a number of times during the night.
– During a typical lifetime, people spend an average of six years dreaming.
– Not all dreams are in color.
– You are paralyzed during your dreams.
Still Having Trouble Sleeping?
If you still find yourself having trouble falling and staying asleep, speak with your doctor. It may also be helpful to keep a Sleep Diary to record any sleeping habits, issues, and patterns.