Irina Khvingia, clinical neuropsychologist, perinatal psychologist
How much should a person sleep? A baby up to three months, mostly sleeps, interrupted by food. A child of preschool and school age should sleep at least 10 hours. In adolescence, sleep time is reduced to 9 hours, or even less. An adult needs at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Since serious scientific research on this topic has not yet been carried out, these are average indicators, the rest is on an individual basis. There is no single conclusion about the duration of sleep, but doctors and scientists are unanimous that lack of sleep negatively affects the quality of life and human health. There are two definitions — a person’s need for sleep and the body’s need for it. As practice shows, these are two different concepts. Someone believes that it is enough for him to sleep, for example, 7 hours a day, while this time can be critically short for the body.
At the age of 18–20 to 30–40 years, the peak of a person’s activity occurs when he simultaneously studies, works, has fun, leads an active lifestyle or brings up small children. Therefore, time for sleep is allocated according to the residual principle, it happens that no more than 3–4 hours a day. However, this time for proper rest and recovery of the body is categorically not enough. Chronic lack of sleep accumulates. Even if a person does not experience discomfort and chronic fatigue during this period of his life, then later the lack of sleep will necessarily affect health not in the best way. Negative consequences are inevitable.
If the autonomic nervous system is initially healthy and strong, then the consequences of prolonged lack of sleep can only make themselves felt by retirement age. This mechanism can be compared with the work of batteries — sooner or later they become unusable. Those who have a weaker autonomic nervous system, due to prolonged lack of sleep, already after 30 years begin to feel much worse. Suddenly, diseases arise, early rises are difficult, concentration of attention and working capacity decrease, constant fatigue and lethargy torment, various disorders appear.
The need for sleep of an adult in the period after 40–45 years is still the same as before — 8 hours a day. At this age, a certain baggage of diseases has already been accumulated, in most cases, cardiovascular. If so, then a person needs more time to sleep, otherwise the body will have nowhere to take new resources for recovery. The more active you are during this period of life in any area — whether it be work, personal life, hobbies, sports or all together, the more time you need to sleep. Even with additional resources to restore the body. There is a need for daytime sleep. Especially if you suffer from insomnia at night.
As a rule, it worries the elderly after 60 years. They accumulate various diseases that disturb their sleep, and also, they are tormented by psychological discomfort from less demand, from the fact that they can no longer realize themselves in a profession or in other useful fields. This is of particular concern to women. Senior citizens sleep less. However, in the body of an elderly person, the need for more sleep increases. Older people, like children, need to sleep at least 10 hours a day.
However, every third adult experiences regular sleep problems, which negatively affects well-being, working capacity and health in general. Often the cause of insomnia is somatic diseases, when a person cannot fall asleep against the background of pain or constantly wakes up. Another reason is the side effect of drugs, especially those intended for the treatment of neurological diseases. In addition, insomnia is possible against the background of stress. By the way, joyful emotions, excitement, euphoria can also deprive a person of sleep along with negative emotional experiences. Insomnia can occur due to a violation of the adaptive function of the autonomic nervous system. In a word, there can be many reasons.
Insomnia is one of the symptoms of internal discomfort, and there are many ways to combat it, including medication. The fight against insomnia must necessarily begin with determining the cause of its occurrence. Only a competent specialist will be able to determine how acute this condition is, and what consequences it can lead to. You should not self-prescribe medications for yourself, because. they can make things worse. However, if the cause of insomnia is psychological, there is no point in giving up drugs either. It is important to remember that any psychopharmacology only affects the symptom, not the cause. As soon as you stop taking the drug, insomnia will return again, because. psychotropic drugs do not treat the cause of sleep disturbance.
Of course, insomnia is short-term, for example, on the eve of exciting events, important negotiations, a long-awaited celebration, during a period of acute emotional experiences of unexpected life circumstances. Then taking sleeping pills is justified, at least you can sleep. If sleep disorders continue after the anxiety has passed, it is necessary to visit a specialist who will conduct a competent diagnosis and identify the cause of insomnia.
Proper organization of the bed and the room can help to overcome insomnia. The sleeping place and bed linen should be comfortable, selected individually. The bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool, and any sources of sound and light should be removed. Before going to bed, the room must be ventilated, but it is important to prevent hypothermia, especially the hands and feet — they must remain warm.
Overly sensitive and color-receptive people need to think in advance in what colors the bedroom will be renovated. If the interior is rich in bright colors, the room is filled with shiny objects, then the human body may react with insomnia. This does not threaten people with a healthy nervous system — they adapt to any color scheme, and will sleep soundly.
Many people like to click on the TV remote control and study social media feeds for the coming dream — it’s not worth it. The less we watch TV and surf the Internet before bed, the less likely it is to overload the brain, and hence insomnia.
Breathing exercises are another way to relax and try to sleep. The respiratory organs are a powerful tool in the fight for sound sleep. Slow deep breath, holding the breath for seven to eight seconds, and then a smooth exhalation through the mouth for eight seconds. A few minutes of this technique can help you fall asleep even in the most hopeless situations.
In addition, you can use self-massage. There are several points on the hands, massaging which, you can quickly relax and fall asleep. There are many similar psychological techniques, the main thing is to find one that helps, everything is individual. For some, meditative calm music may help.
It is important to remember one general rule — a person should fall asleep and wake up on different days. That is, you need to go to bed before 12 o’clock at night. Otherwise, overexcitation occurs, and excessive brain activity will not allow the body to fully relax.