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Dr. Rachel: Why You Need to Sleep

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Sleep plays a vital role in good health and your over all well-being. Yet, millions of people do not get enough sleep.

You may think of sleep as “down time”—when your body shuts off and rests. Not true.

While you are sleeping, your brain is hard at work forming new pathways to help you learn, create memories, and retain information. Your body is also repairing itself from your day and preparing itself for a new day.

Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night to be well rested. Losing even just 1–2 hours of sleep each night can make you function as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two.

Without enough sleep, you have problems with learning, focusing, working, making decisions, and reacting quickly.

Sleep deficiency affects your ability to drive more than drunk driving. A lack of sleep causes mood problems. And a chronic lack of sleep can increase your risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infections.

Naps may provide a short term boost in alertness. But naps do not provide all of the other benefits of night-time sleep. The amount of sleep you need each day will change over the course of your life.

AGE Recommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns    0- 6 months 16- 18 hours a day
Toddlers    6 months to 2 years 10- 14 hours a day
Preschool-aged children    2- 5 years 10-12 hours a day
School-aged children     6- 12 years At least 10 hours a day
Teens    13- 18 years 8- 9 hours a day
Adults    19- 64 years 7-8 hours a day
Older Adults    65+ years 7-8 hours a day