Public Health
Sleep

​​Overview:

  • Sleep is extremely important for the individual’s overall health; it is just as important as eating, drinking and breathing.
  • Sleep is regulated by two systems: the sleep-wakefulness cycle, and the biological clock.
  • Those whose sleep is interrupted frequently may not get sufficient amounts of one of the sleep stages.
  • Healthy naps help children get enough rest, and make them calmer and more comfortable at night.
  • There are several recommended guidelines for improving the quality of your sleep.

Introduction:
All living creatures need to sleep, which is the main function of the brain at the beginning of life. Sleep is regulated by two systems: the sleep-wakefulness cycle, and the biological clock. These systems explain why some individual’s sleeping schedules are different. It is also important to highlight that sleep is extremely important for the individual’s overall health, and it is just as important as eating, drinking and breathing.
  • The sleep-wakefulness cycle: When a person is awake for a long time, this system alerts the body about its need for sleep, and it helps the body get enough sleep during the night to regain its energy during the day.
  • Biological clock: The biological clock regulates the rates of sleepiness and activity during the day and increases and decreases these rates at different times during the day. Peak sleep hours for adults is usually between 2:00 am and 4:00 am, and 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, taking into account individual differences, such as if the individual is an evening person or a morning person. During these hours, sleepiness intensifies if the person did not get enough sleep.
  • Around puberty, the individual's biological clock undergoes some changes, and the peak sleep hours shift a little later, becoming between 3:00 am and 7:00 am, and 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm. This explains why young people stay active at midnight and find it difficult to sleep before 11 pm, which also explains why high school students feel sleepy throughout the school day.

Sleep Stages:
During sleep, an individual pass through two stages of sleep. Several things happen during every stage:
  • Deep sleep: During this stage, the body increases blood flow to the muscles, repairs muscles and tissues, stimulates growth and development, builds up energy for the next day, and secretes important hormones for the processes of growth and development.
  • Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep: This stage is characterized by intense brain activity, it is when dreams start, and the body is unable to move. Respiration and heart rates during REM sleep is typically higher and more variable.​
​The body needs to pass through both stages to get a healthy sleep. Those whose sleep is interrupted frequently may not get sufficient amounts of one of these stages of sleep.

    Baby Naps:
    Most parents worry that the nap taken by their baby may affect their night's sleep. In reality, a healthy nap helps children get sufficient rest, which, in turn, helps them get better and more restful sleep at night. Besides, a good nap helps improve the mental and physical wellbeing. However, in cases where the nap affects the baby's sleep at night, the parents are advised to schedule the nap at an earlier time, or make it shorter.

    The best way to get your child used to a healthy nap routine is to apply it strictly and consistently. In the case of newborns, you should observe your baby’s signs of falling asleep, and immediately place him or her in bed before getting into deep sleep, so that they can learn to sleep on their own. As for toddlers, however, getting them to take a nap may not be as easy. Even when they feel sleepy, they may not want to sleep and miss their activities. In such a case, they should be not be forced to sleep. Rather, it is advisable to allow calm time for kids, during which they can practice simple activities at the bedroom (e.g. reading or playing with simple toys). 
    Having got their child used to a healthy nap routine, the parents may find it surprising how quickly he or she falls asleep at night. If this is not the case, however, at least the child will have got adequate rest during the day. If the child refuses to take a nap altogether, he or she should be encouraged to sleep earlier at night.

    How much sleep is enough for children?
    Sleep is not only measured in terms of the number of sleep hours, but also sleep quality. Several factors determine the a person’s need for sleep, including:  age, lifestyle, health condition, sleep quality, etc.
    It is commonly believed that a person’s need for sleep decreases with age. Actually, there is no evidence that older persons need less hours of sleep than the 

    Sleep Needs by Age:
    There is no set number of sleep hours for all persons of the same age groups. However, following is a list of the approximately appropriate sleep hours for each age group.
    • Birth - 3 months (newborns): approximately 10.5 - 18 hours throughout the day.
    • 4 - 11 months (infants): approximately 9 - 12 hours, in addition to a 30min-2hour nap, 1-4 times a day, to be decreased regularly.
    • 1 - 2 years (toddlers): approximately 11 - 14 hours. At the age 18 months, the baby should take only one 3-hour nap.
    • 3 - 5 years old (preschoolers): approximately 11 - 13 hours daily.
    • 6 - 12 years old (school age children): approximately 9 - 11 hours daily.
    • 13 - 19 years old (teenagers): approximately 9 - 10 hours daily.
    • 20 years and above (adults and older persons) approximately 7 - 8 hours daily.

    Tips for Better Night Sleep:
    1. Stick to a sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at a specific time.
    2. Create a restful sleep environment that is quiet, dark and cool.
    3. Avoid caffeine especially in the afternoon and evening.
    4. Avoid eating heavy meals before sleeping.
    5. Do regular early morning exercises.
    6. Avoid going to bed when you are not sleepy.
    7. If you don't fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do a mild activity.
    8. Avoid napping after 3pm.
    9. Avoid performing tasks and homework at the end of the day.
    10. Limit stimuli around bedtime (e.g. television, computer, and video games).
    11. Create to-do lists before going to sleep to minimize thinking about them while attempting to sleep.
    12. Engage in light and calm activities in the evening.

    Sleep Disorders:
    • Insomnia
    • Sleepwalking
    • Nightmares
    • Night terrors
    • Narcolepsy
    • Jet lag

    Clinical Education General Department
    For inquiries, contact us by email.




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