Sleep - How much and at what age?

Sleep requirements change as we age. When we are infants, we spend most of time asleep. We eat, sleep, fill our diapers, look around and then fall back to sleep.

We need more sleep between puberty and age 25 than any other time of our lives except when we are infants. Experts, at Cornell University, say we need about 9 hours of sleep during these years. The average is 6 hours and 54 minutes – two hours short of what we really need.

During your 20's, try and get to bed by 9:30. An alternative that is better than nothing is to skip nights. Stay up later one night and then go to bed earlier the next. This stops the sleep depravation from adding up day after day.

Our internal clock goes into sleep mode around 11 PM. This is when melatonin production is elevated. If you have difficulty falling asleep, take very small dose of melatonin may help you fall asleep faster. Don't try and make up for the lack of sleep on the weekends. Get up at your normal time, and if you need to, take a power nap around noon.

In your thirties, stress becomes one of the culprits of too little sleep. One of the main reasons is elevated cortisol levels that are a result of stress in your life. Ron Klatz, M.D. recommends taking B5 – pantothenic acid, before going to bed to help reduce the levels of cortisol. Ironically, aspirin may also reduce cortisol levels. Elevated levels of cortisol prevent you from reaching the deep sleep that you really need. An alternative technique is to go for a brisk short walk late in the afternoon. Researchers at the university of Arizona found that this causes your body temperature to drop in the evening and helps you get into a deep sleep pattern.

By the time you reach your 50's sleep problems are rampant. Cortisol levels, due to stress in our lives, are up to 12 times higher than when we are in our thirties. Approximately 1 out of 25 people have sleep apnea.

Again, pantothenic acid taken before bed with fruit juice for its sugar, fructose, will help reduce that elevated cortisol. Many medications, especially beta-blockers cause a reduction in melatonin levels. A study published in the European journal of Pharmacology, showed that the reduction was in the order of 80 – 90 percent. Prozac is another medication that will reduce melatonin levels.