Q.How much sleep do I really need?
A. For some reason, our society seems to attach high value to sleeping as little as possible and to extending the waking period. Also wreaking havoc on sleep cycles is shift work at 24-hour, around-the-clock operations, including hospitals. Sleep deprivation is a major problem in America.
Exactly how much sleep an individual requires varies from one person to the next. Sleep needs tend to decrease with age. A one-year-old baby requires about 14 hours of sleep a day, a five-year-old about 12 hours, and adults about 7 to 8. In addition, women tend to require more sleep than do men. As people age their sleep needs may decline, but so does their ability to sustain sleep, probably as a result of decreased levels of important brain chemicals, such as serotonin and melatonin. The elderly tend to respond quite well to melatonin supplementation to improve sleep quality. The usual amount of melatonin that is used ranges from 0.5 to 3 mg, taken 30 minutes before bedtime.Michael Murray, ND, is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine and a contributor to the Healthnotes, Inc. team of experts. Dr. Murray is the author of A Textbook of Natural Medicine, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, and The Healing Power of Herbs. He also authors Dr. Murray’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, an exclusive Healthnotes product.