Now that school is back in session, I can finally get some sleep. My two little Trusslers loved staying up all night and sleeping in during the summer and that sometimes made it harder on me to get in bed sooner. So, how much sleep does your fifth grader, or your high-schooler, or your grandma need? Everyone is different.
It’s not normal for a 40-year-old to sleep 18 hours per day, but it is normal for an infant to sleep that much. We doctors used to say that everybody needs 8 hours of sleep. While that may be true for most individuals, we now know that most teenagers actually need about 10 hours of sleep, especially if they are involved in organized sports. Their bodies are still growing and their minds are still developing and they need more rest that most of us.
Another important factor in sleep is our circadian rhythm. That’s our body's internal alarm clock. It tells most of us to get sleepy in the evening and start to wake up in the morning and it is built around light. Light, particularly a certain type of light called blue light, which exists at a specific wavelength, can make our brains think it’s daytime. iPads, iPhones, Samsungs, etc., can trick our brain into believing that we should be waking up instead of going to sleep by using blue light. Try to leave your phone in another room or simply power it down an hour or two before you go to bed. I know it will be hard to avoid Snapchatting your Facebook profile on your Instagram followed by a Candy Crush dessert, but you might just fall asleep a little bit sooner.