How much sleep the average South African gets each night

 ·16 Feb 2019

South Africans are some of the earliest risers in the world.

This is according to data provided by sleep-tracking app Sleep Cycle, which found that the average South African wakes at 6:09 each day – behind only Guatemala in international rankings.

However, the data shows that South Africans are also the earliest to bed – with the average South African choosing to go to sleep at around 22:52.

This means that around 30% of South Africans sleep for around seven hours each night, while around 27% get the recommended eight hours of sleep.

How much sleep do I need?

Sleep has long been considered as an integral part of success in the business world – with Tesla CEO Elon Musk boasting that he works 120 hours a week, leaving him with little time to rest.

However, scientists have warned that not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to both your day-to-day functioning and long-term health.

This has lead to some confusion as to how much sleep you should be getting, with minimum times ranging anywhere from six to ten hours a night.

A 2018 study by the US National Sleep Foundation found that the ideal amount of sleep typically differed depending on age.

“In the new guidelines, there’s a wider range of what constitutes a good night’s sleep,” said lead researcher Dr Lydia DonCarlos.

“For example, the expert panel recommends that teens (ages 14 to 17) get eight to 10 hours of sleep per night.

“The previous guideline had a narrower recommended range of 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night,” she said.

The revised guidelines for sleep are now as follows:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day;
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours;
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours;
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours;
  • School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours;
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours;
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours;
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours;
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours ;

Stages of sleep

While it would be ideal to sleep through the night without disturbances, researchers have found that people typically go through differrent stages of sleep.

“During sleep, you usually go through five stages of sleep,” Sleep Cycle said.

“Simplified, stages 1-2 are light sleep, 3-4 deep sleep, and the fifth stage is REM sleep, also referred to as rapid eye movement sleep.”

  • Stage one: The first stage of sleep, known as light stage sleep, is one of the shortest, lasting five to ten minutes on average. In this stage, the mind and body begin to ‘slow down,’ causing us to feel drowsy and relaxed. Light sleep is also when it’s easiest to wake up, and that’s why power naps shouldn’t be more than twenty minutes so you don’t enter deep sleep;
  • Stage two: In the second stage of sleep, still referred to as light sleep, eye movement, brain waves, and muscle activity start to decrease and prepare the mind for deep sleep;
  • Stages three and four: During the third and fourth stages of sleep, slow wave sleep, we become much more difficult to wake up. The muscles of the body become fully relaxed or ‘limp’ in this stage, and breathing rate, blood pressure, and body temperature all decrease significantly during these stages.
  • Stage five: After these stages, the body enters the most talked-about phase of sleep: the REM phase. During this phase, we experience dreams, but also a host of neurological and physiological responses which are similar to being awake. During REM sleep, heart rate and blood pressure increase, while breathing can become irregular, fast, and shallow.

Read: The cost of finding love in South Africa vs the rest of the world

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