Many of us are not getting the right amount of sleep we need. From long hours at demanding jobs, late night Instagram-scrolling and stress-induced insomnia, sleep sometimes becomes a long way down our list of priorities.
The phenomenon was even dubbed a ‘sleep crisis’ by researchers in the United States last year. Earlier this year, a report suggested the UK loses $50billion (£40.4 billion) and 604,000 working days a year due to sleep deprivation whereas the US loses $411 billion. In 2014, it was estimated six out of 10 British people are sleep deprived, partly because of the advent of smart phones.
But how much sleep do you actually need? There has long been an association with successful people such as heads of government, CEOs and business moguls who have spoken about functioning at a particularly high level on just a few hours of sleep each night.
The worst jobs for your health
The worst jobs for your health
1/10 10. Surgical and medical assistants, technologists, and technicians
Overall unhealthiness score: 57.3 What they do: Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel and perform medical laboratory tests. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 88 2. Exposure to contaminants: 80 3. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 69
2/10 9. Stationary engineers and boiler operators
Overall unhealthiness score: 57.7 What they do: Operate or maintain stationary engines, boilers, or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or industrial processes. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 99 2. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 89 3. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 84
3/10 8. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators
Overall unhealthiness score: 58.2 What they do: Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 97 2. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 80 3. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 74
4/10 7. Histotechnologists and histologic technicians
Overall unhealthiness score: 59.0 What they do: Prepare histologic slides from tissue sections for microscopic examination and diagnosis by pathologists. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 88 2. Exposure to contaminants: 76 3. Exposure to disease and infections: 75
5/10 6. Immigration and customs inspectors
Overall unhealthiness score: 59.3 What they do: Investigate and inspect people, common carriers, goods, and merchandise, arriving in or departing from the US or between states to detect violations of immigration and customs laws and regulations. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 78 2. Exposure to disease and infections: 63 3. Exposure to radiation: 62
6/10 5. Podiatrists
Overall unhealthiness score: 60.2 What they do: Diagnose and treat diseases and deformities of the human foot. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 87 2. Exposure to radiation: 69 3. Exposure to contaminants: 67
7/10 4. Veterinarians, veterinary assistants, and laboratory animal caretakers and veterinary technologists and technicians
What they do: Diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals and perform medical tests in a laboratory environment for use in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases in animals. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 81 2. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 75 3. Exposure to contaminants: 74
8/10 3. Anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and anesthesiologist assistants
Overall unhealthiness score: 62.3 What they do: Administer anesthetics or sedatives during medical procedures, and help patients in recovering from anesthesia. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to disease and infections: 94 2. Exposure to contaminants: 80 3. Exposure to radiation: 74
9/10 2. Flight attendants
What they do: Provide personal services to ensure the safety, security, and comfort of airline passengers during flight. Greet passengers, verify tickets, explain use of safety equipment, and serve food or beverages. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 88 2. Exposure to disease and infections: 77 3. Exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings: 69
10/10 1. Dentists, dental surgeons, and dental assistants
Overall unhealthiness score: 65.4 What they do: Examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of teeth and gums. May treat diseases of nerve, pulp, and other dental tissues affecting oral hygiene and retention of teeth. May fit dental appliances or provide preventive care. Top three health risks: 1. Exposure to contaminants: 84 2. Exposure to disease and infections: 75 3. Time spent sitting: 67
The amount of sleep we need varies on many factors, one of which is our age. Ana Noia, a senior clinical physiologist in neurophysiology and sleep, at Bupa Cromwell Hospital told The Independent that while how much sleep someone needs can vary according to the individual, as a standard rule how much sleep someone needs will change with age.
According to Noia:
- Newborns need 16-18 hours a day,
- Two-year-olds typically need on average 11-13 hours.
- By the age of five, children will sleep between 10-12 hours.
- Teenagers definitely don’t sleep enough and should be getting eight to 10 hours.
- From the age of 20 onwards it is normal to sleep seven to nine hours.
- Once you’re older than 65, the amount of sleep you need actually decreases, to around five to seven hours. However, she recommends that adults sleep between seven to eight hours a night.
Why we need to rest our eyes for different amounts of time depending on our age comes down to the complex changes in how the brain develops, our circadian rhythm, environmental factors, work and social needs and demands according to Noia.
For instance, the vast amount of sleep children require is because the hormone melatonin, which helps us sleep, reaches its peak at around seven or eight years old. This begins decreasing during the mid teen years until the age of 70 when it is essentially non-existent in our bodies, meaning the need for sleep decreases. Additionally, elderly people are likely to find their quality of sleep is worse than when they were younger because sleep becomes more fragmented and not as deep as you age.
“The most dramatic change occurs in the elderly. Deep sleep, for example, can almost disappear,” Noia says.
The phrase sleeping like a baby is clearly exemplified by the fact they are sometimes only awake for just six hours a day. The reason why they sleep so much is because it is vital for acquiring and consolidating memories, learning and for brain development, says Noia.
“During sleep, the hormone which stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration is also released, so you can see why little ones sleep so much,” she says.
However, for those acutely aware they are not getting enough sleep, they may, in turn, be pressurising themselves which Noia says can also be detrimental.
“People who find it difficult falling asleep often ‘make sleep a priority’. They schedule everything they do, minute by minute, which can be very stressful and actually hinder good quality sleep itself.
"The worry of not falling asleep in a ‘schedule’ can bring bedtime tension and excessive worrying about not falling asleep at the right time. People should only go to bed if they feel they are ready to sleep."Reuse content