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A guide to how much sleep you really need – and how to improve its quality

January is finally over, but as he head into the second month of 2020 it’s still as cold and miserable as ever.

Many of us find ourselves feeling tired, groggy and less happy during the coldest months of the year when we wake up in the dark and get home in it too.

If you’re feeling a bit run down, then it’s worth paying attention to the Holy Grail of wellbeing – a good night’s sleep.

Getting a night of good quality sleep not only massively lowers your risk of health issues like diabetes and heart disease, but it reduces stress, and improves mood, concentration and creativity.

Sadly, a massive 16 million of us complain of sleepless nights and one third of those claim they have insomnia.

In the past, studies have shown that a quarter of children suffer from poor sleep which can lead to problems in the classroom, with their educational success and with their mental health in the long term.

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In order to help this, Rob Hobson, author of The Art of Sleeping, told the Sun: “One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is that one size never fits all. Sleep issues are complicated, encompassing many areas of health.

“By working through my three core principles of sleep — Behaviour, Environment and Diet — you will address many of the basic areas of sleep hygiene that can help you on the way to achieving the sleep of your dreams.”

Rob believes that your entire day affects your sleep.

His B.E.D plan covers everything from evening behaviour, to your bedroom as a space and what you eat.

Considering we spend a third of our lives sleeping, it’s for the best if we do it well.

He would recommend between seven and nine hours sleep each night for adults, but this varies with your age, sex, health and more.

Here’s how much sleep you should be getting:

  • Babies: Young babies need around 11 hours of sleep, plus two-and-a-half hours sleep in the day.
  • Pre-schoolers: Under five-year-olds need 11.5 hours sleep at night and a one hour to 30 minute nap in the day.
  • Primary kids: Up to the age of 12, children should sleep between nine-and-a-half and 11 hours sleep.
  • Teens: Nine hours.
  • Adults: From 20 and beyond you need seven to nine hours of sleep.
  • Seniors: Your need for sleep reduces to between seven and eight hours.

Studies have previously suggested that women need around 20 minutes more of sleep than men.

And, while its generally believed that older people need more sleep, in actuality they need the least amount of good-quality sleep – they're just not getting it when in bed

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There are three stages to our sleep cycles which determine its quality: Stage I (a light doze), Stage II (middle, restorative sleep) and Stage III (Slow-wave deep sleep, this is the best sleep).

If you fail to spend a decent amount of time in second and third stage sleep then you will not feel refreshed.

Sadly, sleep quality deteriorates as our health does, meaning that as we age we tend to find that our sleep is less high-quality and effective.

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