New Research Finds Five Hours Of Sleep Or Less A Night Linked To Chronic Disease

A good night's sleep can set the tone for your entire day. However, ensuring you get the appropriate amount of sleep is important not just for ensuring a well-rested, refreshed, and energetic day, but it also has a direct impact on your overall health. Though sleep is a critical part of development for all humans, the amount of sleep recommended varies depending on the age of the individual, according to the Sleep Foundation.

Newborns up to three months of age require the most amount of sleep with a recommended 14 to 17 hours of sleep each day. Infants, ages four to 11 months, require at least 12 to 15 hours, and toddlers, one to two-year-olds, are recommended to get between 11 and 14 hours daily. As a person ages, less sleep is required to be healthy. Preschool-aged children, three to five years old should get as many as 10 to 13 hours, while 6 to 13-year-olds are recommended to sleep between nine and 11 hours. Teenagers typically fare well with eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. For individuals 18 years of age and older, the minimum amount of sleep needed each night is at least seven hours.

What happens when you don't get enough sleep?

Aside from feeling less than your best, not getting enough sleep can also impact your overall health and mood, according to Healthline. When your body does not receive the appropriate amount of rest, there are a number of issues that can arise including becoming sick due to a weakened overall state, a diminished libido, poor memory, problems concentrating, weight gain, lackluster skin, and an increased likelihood of causing or being involved in a car accident. Additionally, one can simply be unpleasant (per a 2018 study). In fact, most individuals will experience irritability when they have not given their bodies the appropriate amount of sleep required to feel rested and refreshed.

While there are people who claim to have mastered the art of sleeping only a few hours a day, there's more to how sleep impacts your health than simply how you feel (via Popular Science). An individual can feel as though they have adjusted to a routine with fewer sleeping hours each day. However, the body's requirements do not change simply because an individual can function on less sleep. In fact, recent research has shown that sleeping less than five hours each night can have serious consequences on your long-term health.

Do I really need that much sleep?

While missing a few hours of z's on occasion may not do much more than leave you grumpy and longing for the comfort of your bed, routinely getting less than enough sleep can greatly impact your quality of life. Healthline explains that long-term sleep deprivation or a consistent period of getting less than adequate sleep for your body can put you at a greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a weakened immune system. These risks are present for all adults, however, for individuals over the age of 50, there's an even more pressing concern.

In fact, new research has demonstrated that individuals over 50 years old, who sleep less than five hours each night, are more prone to being diagnosed with two or more chronic illnesses over time. The study results demonstrated that as participant ages advanced the percentages increased with 50-year-olds having a 30% higher risk, 60-year-olds at 32%, and 70-year-olds posing the highest risk with 40% compared to their counterparts who slept at least seven hours each night (via Everyday Health). Though there were limitations in the study itself, the results support existing literature that suggests that sleep deprivation is a real and concerning problem that needs to be addressed with a serious approach.