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Everything you need to know about sleep

Everything you need to know about sleep

Sleep is a basic need

We’re living in a world of non-stop action – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Constant availability, smartphones and round-the-clock sensory overload. We hardly take any time to sleep anymore.

Sleep, however, is indispensable for human development and good health. There’s a reason sleep is considered one of our basic needs – right alongside air, food and water.

Your body’s release of growth hormones peaks during deep sleep.

It repairs cells and creates new ones while you rest. As your entire body shifts down a gear, the processing mechanisms in your brain go into overdrive as it stores and processes your experiences.

Generally speaking, anybody who sleeps too little, poorly or restlessly for an extended period of time will feel unwell and will no longer be capable of giving 100 percent. The damage caused by sleep disorders costs the economy billions every year. It’s true when we say: Sleeping costs money.

25 %

of the population can’t get any rest at night and suffers from difficulties falling asleep, sleeping through the night or sleep deprivation.

4 months

is the amount of time we spend in bed every year – i.e. a third of our entire life.

How much sleep do you need?

On average, people spend between 7 and 8 hours sleeping every day. The amount of sleep a person needs and how long they sleep at a time differs from one person to the next and depends greatly on their age. Infants, for example, spend a large portion of their day sleeping – yet as any parent knows all too well, they usually don’t do this all at once.

Similarly, our sleeping patterns change over the course of our lives. Today, a typical Dutch man or woman will sleep an average of 7.5 hours during the week, which means that we’re awake about 38 minutes longer every day than we were just 30 years ago.

What happens to you at night

Not all sleep is created equal – and it’s definitely not a steady, unchanging state of being. In fact, the quality of our sleep changes several times throughout the night. Sometimes your sleep will be lighter, sometimes deeper. This is because we pass through various sleep phases with different brain wave activity, muscle activity and eye movements. Roughly speaking, we can break our sleep cycle down into REM sleep (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep, whereby non-REM sleep can be broken down even further into three stages of sleep: falling to sleep, light sleep and deep sleep. REM sleep and non-REM sleep can alternate several times and we pass through three to five of these cycles every night. Regardless of the time, healthy people always enter their deep-sleep stage at the beginning of the night.

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