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Information » Health » Health and Body Matters » Sleeping


On average, we sleep for about one third of our lives. We need to sleep in order keep our mind and body working properly.

Older children need about 9 -10 hours sleep per night, and adults need about 7 – 8 hours per night. Teenagers going through puberty may need even more.

Types of sleep

There are two types of sleep and we move between them throughout the night:

  • Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep - It is during this type of sleep we dream. Our brain is active, muscles are relaxed and our eyes move quickly from side to side.
  • Non-REM sleep - The brain is quiet but the body moves around. This is when body repairs itself and recovers from activity during the day.

During a normal night, we will also wake up for about one or two minutes. Unless we are anxious about something we won’t normally remember waking up.


Not being able to sleep is a condition called insomnia and it can be triggered by stress, excitement, eating late at night, hunger, alcohol, caffeine and stimulant drugs, including nicotine.

Other factors that can lead to insomnia include an uncomfortable bed or bedroom, physical health problems, sleep apnoea (abnormal breathing while asleep), asthma, tinnitus, pain and indigestion.

Sleep walking

Sleepwalking is common in children and young adults. It tends to run in families.

There is no clear understanding why some people do it but it is thought to be linked to stress or anxiety. It is not a serious condition.

The danger is to the sleepwalker who could trip or fall. Keep doors locked and keys out of the way and always stay with a sleepwalker until they are safely back in bed.

You can wake a sleepwalker with no danger to them, but it is not recommended, as it can be a scary experience for them.

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