Sleep was long considered just a uniform block of time when you are not awake. Thanks to sleep studies done over the past several decades, it is now known that sleep has distinctive stages that cycle throughout the night. Your brain stays active throughout sleep, but different things happen during each stage. For instance, certain stages of sleep are needed for us to feel well rested and energetic the next day, and other stages help us learn or make memories.
Sleep needs vary from person to person, and they change throughout the lifecycle. Most adults need 7–8 hours of sleep each night. Newborns, on the other hand, sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day, and children in preschool sleep between 10 and 12 hours a day. School-aged children and teens need at least 9 hours of sleep a night.
Not only does the quantity of your sleep matter, but the quality of your sleep is important as well. People whose sleep is interrupted a lot or is cut short might not get enough of certain stages of sleep.
In other words, how well rested you are and how well you function the next day depend on your total sleep time and how much of the various stages of sleep you get each night.
Sleeplessness can be a temporary problem, remedied by one or more lifestyle changes. However, when lack of sleep begins to cause safety or health problems in your daily life, seeking medical advice is wise. Most sleep disorders can be treated and cured.