Sleep requirements by age
Adequate quantity and quality of sleep are important for you to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. While for a blessed few dozing off is an easy affair, going to sleep can be a struggle for many. Not sleeping enough may interfere with your ability to focus on daily tasks, thus affecting your performance at work or school. It can also harm health in several ways. Long-term insomnia (inability to sleep) may lead to various medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and mental disorders including anxiety and depression. The amount of sleep needed may vary with age. In certain special situations, such as women in the first three months of pregnancy, individuals may require more hours of sleep. Table 1 shows the recommended hours of sleep for people based on age.
Table 1. The Average Hours of Sleep Recommended
|Age group||Hours of sleep needed (hours per day)|
|Infants (0 to 3 months)||14 to 17|
|Infants (4 to 11 months)||12 to 15|
|Toddlers (1 to 2 years)||11 to 14|
|Pre-school aged children (3 to 5 years)||10 to 13|
|School-aged children (6 to 13 years)||9 to 11|
|Teenagers (14 to 17 years)||8 to 10|
|Adults||7 to 9|
|Older adults (age 65 years and above)||7 to 8|
How can I fall asleep in 2 minutes?
Falling asleep in a short while, such as in 2 minutes, may be achieved by following certain tips and sleep rituals. However, you need to follow this routine daily to train your brain to fall asleep quickly. One technique was reportedly practiced by the United States military. The technique, called military technique, was developed to help soldiers get to sleep in stressful situations, such as battlefields. By getting adequate sleep, the soldiers were less vulnerable to daytime fatigue and the probability of making mistakes, which could be dangerous. This technique involves
- Lying in bed.
- Start by breathing slowly and deeply.
- Relax the muscles in your face by releasing all tension in your jaw, forehead and around the eyes.
- Relax your body as you drop your shoulders as low as you comfortably can. Relax your neck and upper arms.
- Breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly. Relax your body starting from the upper body. Release the stress and tension in your lower body, beginning from the thighs and moving towards the lower legs.
- Give yourself at least 10 seconds after you relax your entire body. Clear your mind of all thoughts. This can be done by doing any of the following
- Repeat the words “don’t think” again and again in your mind
- Visualize a happy memory in your mind.
- Imagine you are at a scenic place by the side of a lake with soothing fragrances of flowers around you.
This may help you get relaxed mentally and physically, so that you fall asleep in no time.
Which foods help you sleep faster?
Certain foods and drinks may help you get a good night’s sleep. These include
- Foods rich in tryptophan: Tryptophan is a natural sleep-promoting substance. Tryptophan-rich foods include milk, bananas, nuts, honey, chicken, turkey and eggs.
- Complex carbs: Whole grains, in contrast to refined foods, help you sleep faster and better. Your bedtime snacks should preferably be popcorn, oatmeal and whole-wheat crackers. To enhance the taste, you can top any of these with nut butter.
- Fish: Fish is rich in vitamin B6. The vitamin is needed to make melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle.
- A handful of nuts: Apart from being rich in healthy fats, nuts like almonds and walnuts contain melatonin. Eating them can help you sleep more soundly.
- Kale: This leafy green is high in calcium and puts the sleep hormones to work to ensure you enjoy a good slumber.
- Honey in warm beverages: Add some honey to warm beverages like chamomile or peppermint tea or just plain warm water. The concoction relaxes your mind. Honey lowers the level of orexin, a chemical found in the body that makes you more alert and facilitates falling asleep.
- Fruits: Fruits like tart cherries, bananas, pineapple and oranges reduce the oxidative stress in the body and give a boost to your sleep hormones, making you sleep faster and wake up less frequently at night. Having two kiwis before bed has been found to increase sleep duration by an hour over a month in people who chronically suffer from lack of sleep.
Apart from these foods and exercises, a proper sleep environment is paramount. The room where you sleep must be cool and dark with no disturbing noises. The bed must be firm and the pillow must provide proper support to the neck.
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