16 Sleep Week: Day 1

16 Sleep Week kicked off Monday morning to address Michiana's biggest sleep-related questions.

On Day 1, local sleep professionals responded to one of the biggest questions, "how much sleep is enough?"

We can come up with every excuse in the book for why there are not enough hours in the day, but for some groups, their amount of sleep is essential to healthy growth.

"The younger the child is, the more sleep they need,” said Dr. Asad Ansari, a pediatric pulmonologist. “The older you get, you need less sleep. The older you get, you need less sleep. For most school-going children, they probably need 9-10 hours of sleep."

But as any expert will tell you, the amount will vary depending on the person, regardless of age.

"The most important key is the child is able to wake up in the morning without much difficulty," Ansari said.

Ten hours can be tough to squeeze into any busy schedule, even for a kid. But doctors say it is so important for kids to get the rest they need. Why is that?

"Having good sleep helps consolidate memory,” said Ansari. “It does help put all the things you learned the previous day in memory. Getting good sleep is also important for optimal growth. During certain phases of sleep, the body releases certain hormones which are important for body growth. There are many medical reasons to ensure your child sleeps well at night so they perform well the next day."

What about teenagers? How much sleep should they get?

"With older kids getting very busy, many of the practices going late in the evenings it does make sleeping on time very difficult,” advised Ansari. “When you are around 14-16 years (old), that may be a time when 8 hours may suffice. Another thing that happens around teenage years is the biological clock of falling asleep and waking up does get shifted by half an hour to an hour, so there is a physiological reason why many teenagers want to fall asleep late and wake up late."

As for adults, experts suggest six to nine hours of sleep because a lack of sufficient rest starts to take a toll.

“Sleep deprivation is a big deal,” said Tim Dickey, director of the Memorial Sleep Disorder Center. “Studies show that someone who loses 3-4 hours of sleep every night, by the 3rd day has the coordination of someone who's taken 3 shots of whiskey and gets behind the wheel of a car. It's pretty incredible the effect the lack of sleep has."

Finally, the question we all want to know…can we really catch up on sleep? Sadly, most experts will tell you no.

"You build up a sleep debt and that's what we're talking after 3 or 4 nights it really gets bad, you never get that back," Dickey said.

Dickey went on to say that you will feel more rested if you get more sleep. And what you lose from lack of resting all week, unfortunately, you will not get back.

Email your "sleep questions" to 16morningnews@wndu.com or post them on Kate Chappell's Facebook Page.

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