Many people believe that the best way to get over being sick is by sleeping and being well-rested. The question of how the immune system and sleep interact has been actively studied for over thirty years; Recent research published in the journal SLEEP provides new evidence of the direct and functional effects of sleep on immune response. Now the question is: what’s the ideal amount of sleep to get the most benefits from it?
The amount of sleep we need depends on age
Sleep needs vary across ages and are impacted by lifestyle and health. Though experts can’t estimate an exact amount of sleep needed by people at different ages, there are datas that most experts have agreed upon (see image below from the National Sleep Foundation).
How much is too little or too much sleep?
Sleeping too little and sleeping too much may put you at risk. Researchers Shawn Youngstedt and Daniel Kripke reviewed two surveys of more than 1 million adults conducted by the American Cancer Society. They found that the group of people who slept seven hours had less mortality after six years than those sleeping both more and less.
Other studies showed that adults who sleep between 6.5 hour and 7.5 hour a night live the longest. On the other hand, people who sleep 8 hour or more, or less than 6.5 hour, don’t live quite as long.
There would be as much risk associated with sleeping too long as with sleeping too short. Chronic sleep loss has been shown to damage immune function. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have all been linked with chronic sleep loss. But sleeping more than 8.5 hour might even be a little worse than sleeping 5 hour… Oversleeping has also been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, low energy, headaches and memory problems.
To determine how much sleep you should get, it is recommended to assess your own individual needs and habits. Different age groups need different amounts of sleep, but it is important to understand that sleep needs are also individual. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep. Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health to figure out the right amount of sleep you need!
Other factors that can affect the amount of sleep you need
In addition to age, there are other things that can increase the need of sleep such as previous sleep deprivation, periods of stress or illness, pregnancy, or sleep quality (apnea, insomnia). The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity!
Also, sleep deprivation can trigger inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. There is a growing number of studies showing a link between mood, stress, sleep deprivation and chronic skin diseases.