Mental Health

How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep?

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Sleep is one of those things that joins us together as a species, because every single human needs it, regardless of their age, race, gender or nationality. The need for sleep is universal. The problem is that, for something that is a necessity for every human in the world, we don’t know a whole lot about it. We still are not completely sure why we need to sleep although the most common answer is that is offers restorative properties. It is estimated that we spend up to one third of our lives asleep, that’s a lot of time doing something that we don’t know why we’re doing it or if we’re doing it correctly.


Scientifically speaking the average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep a night, older adults tend to need slight less at 7-8 and teenagers require at least 10 hours. The reason that teenagers seem to need so much sleep is down to puberty. With the onset of puberty there are a multitude of hormonal and chemical changes happening in the body. These changes affect a teenager’s natural circadian rhythm making them sleepy later at night and prompting them to sleep in longer in the morning. Teenagers also seem to sleep brilliantly, it’s rare that you hear of a 16 year old having a lot of trouble sleeping. This is because the sleep they have is often very high quality. High quality or restorative sleep is also referred to as Non-REM, it’s a deep slow-wave dreamless sleep which is why it seems like mission impossible to wake any teenager up before 9am.


As we get older, the quality of the sleep we get changes and so do our sleeping patterns. Through the early 20’s the quality of sleep declines from the restorative deep sleep we get in our teens to the slightly less restorative middle sleep. It declines even further into older adulthood but that isn’t necessarily to do with age. Research has indicated that there is actually a much stronger link between health and sleep than there is age and sleep. So, the healthy you are, the better quality sleep you will have. As we get older, there will inevitably be more problems that ail us, whether that is respiratory problems, arthritis, muscle pain, weak bladder or restlessness, all of these things will disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle prompting us to wake at least once a night and breaking up the restorative sleep we need. This is often why older adults will feel the need to nap during the day, as they don’t get enough good quality sleep during the night. The sleep cycle of older adults often regresses to that of a young child with frequent shorten periods of sleep rather than a large block of 8 hours.

However it not just lacking enough sleep that causes problems, sleeping too much can also be detrimental to health. Too much sleep over a prolonged period has been linked to increased levels of anxiety, an inability to concentrate as well as risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Does Diet Affect Your Mental Health?

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If you are what you eat, then it should make a lot of sense that diet affects your mental health. After all, your neurological and endocrine systems are contained within your body, and they function based on the types of nutrients they gets (or don’t). Your digestive system is also in there, and is quite delicate when you think about it. However, your mental health is not steadfast and requires wholesome fuel in order to work properly.

Understanding How Your Body Processes Its Food

Before you can grasp just how important your diet is to your mental health, you have to understand what your body does with the food you give it. When you eat, your body begins breaking down the food to push vital nutrients to the most important parts of the body – with your heart and brain being at the top of the food chain. If those nutrients are incomplete or nonexistent, your body pulls from other systems to get what it need to nourish those more important systems. One of the first things to go without is your balanced hormones via the neglected endocrine system. In this way alone, diet plays a huge role in how mentally healthy you are.

More about the Malnourished Endocrine System

The human endocrine system consists of several glands which work in tandem. Considering how they must all function properly to keep hormones balanced and all the other body systems working right, it only makes sense that the endocrine system should be cared for through proper nutrition. A malnourished endocrine system can cause hormones to go out of balance, and over time can disrupt brain function, digestion, sexuality, and mental health. However, a body that is replete with wholesome nutrition is safe from this dangerous downslope. In fact, well-nourished bodies tend to function much better as whole, and the person living inside that body typically feels great because of it.

The Proper Diet for a Health Endocrine System and Optimal Mental Health

While getting full during a meal is important, it is also vital that you get full on the right foods. Especially when you are concerned about the condition of your endocrine system and the state of your mental health, your food choices really matter. Although there are a lot of exceptionally healthy foods from which to choose, certain items tend to improve mental health and endocrine function over time.

When planning your next meal, think about those things. Remember that a healthy body equals a healthy brain. Try to eat foods that are high in protein and especially in omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, you might want to stay away from foods that have lots of preservatives, additives, chemicals, and other potentially dangerous byproducts. Pre-packaged foods are especially dangerous for your mental health, and can even create problems that didn’t exist before. Ask your doctor or a certified nutritionist if you are unsure as to which foods you should be eating and which ones you should try to avoid.