How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Recent attention on what seems like an insomnia epidemic might have you asking, “How much sleep do I need?” It’s probably more than you think.

how much sleep do I need?

Per a recent study conducted in the U.S., around a quarter of kids had what researchers called “bedtime resistance” at age 2. By age 5, that number doubled.

© Olena Hromova | Dreamstime

Has a friend ever bragged about how refreshed he feels after just four or five hours of sleep the night before? Do you know a child who resists going to bed at a reasonable hour because she “doesn’t feel tired?” Do you find yourself on an inconsistent schedule when it comes to your own sleep habits? These examples might lead you to ask the question, “How much sleep do I need?”

The answer depends on various factors, such as your age, mental and physical health, and work schedule. But before we get into how many hours you should be dedicating to sleep every night, let’s look at how our bodies react when we get too much or too little sleep.

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 When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

You’re probably already aware of some of the health benefits of sleep. When you get a good night’s rest, you’re alert, you’re in a better mood, you feel stronger, and you look and feel refreshed. What you may not know, though, is that regular and restful sleep also:

  • Allows your brain, cells, organs, and tissues to repair and maintain themselves
  • Helps regulate beneficial hormone levels
  • Enhances your immune system.

But what happens to your body when you don’t get enough rest?

In the short term, a lack of sufficient sleep can negatively affect your mood and ability to concentrate and can cause fatigue. Long-term effects can include very serious complications. Sleep deprivation can cause depression, stress, anxiety, brain damage, and an increased risk of dementia.

Sleep deprivation also might be a sign of a serious condition—insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome, for example. Contact your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping so that he or she can recommend the right treatment.

HOW TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP

Getting the answer to the question “How much sleep do I need?” may not be helpful to you if you’re having trouble sleeping in the first place. Oftentimes, getting a good night’s rest isn’t as simple as lying down in bed and closing your eyes. Many of us have a hard time winding down our brains after a long day of work or school; we need a proper atmosphere to help us drift off to sleep.

Here are some tips to regulate and improve your sleep pattern:

  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Avoid anything that may stimulate your brain or body right before bedtime, including caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cell phones, exercise, and large meals.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. (The NSF recommends a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  • Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible.
  • Try calming music, white noise, or nature sounds as background noise if complete silence tends to cause anxiety.
  • Try aromatherapy to help you relax.
  • Avoid taking naps too close to bedtime.
  • Seek medical attention if you’re snoring loudly or having trouble breathing at night.

When You Sleep Too Much

There’s plenty of information out there about what can happen to you if you don’t get enough sleep every night, but is there such a thing as too much sleep?

The short answer is yes. Like sleep deprivation, oversleeping can cause fatigue, anxiety, and memory problems. It can also be a sign of a chronic stress, depression, or substance abuse. Oversleeping, or hypersomnia, can also increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, back pain, depression, heart disease, and headaches.

If you consistently don’t get quite enough sleep during the week and then attempt to “catch up” on the weekends by oversleeping, that could also have an adverse effect on your health, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Arizona. “Social jet lag”—the time difference between sleep patterns on workdays and days off—can increase the risk of heart disease by up 11 percent. Researchers also found that social jet lag can cause poor health, bad moods, increased sleepiness, and fatigue.

Wait…. So How Much Sleep Do I Need?

So, if too much sleep isn’t good for us and getting too little isn’t healthy either, how much sleep should we be getting?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Adults over of the age of 65 need only seven to eight hours of sleep. In between those age groups are infants (12 to 15 hours), toddlers (11 to 14 hours), preschoolers (10 to 13 hours), school-aged children (9 to 11 hours), and teens (8 to 10 hours). Newborns may need as much as 17 hours of sleep.

Some individuals may find that sleeping about an hour less or an hour more than the recommended guidelines works for their lifestyle. According to the NSF, that’s acceptable, but sleeping two hours more or two hours less than the recommended sleep times appropriate for your age may cause or indicate serious health issues.

 

National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Duration Recommendations :

Age Recommended May be appropriate Not recommended
Newborns (0-3 months)

 

14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours
18 to 19 hours
Less than 11 hours
More than 19 hours
Infants (4-11 months)

 

12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours
16 to 18 hours
Less than 10 hours
More than 18 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years)

 

11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours
15 to 16 hours
Less than 9 hours
More than 16 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years)

 

10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours
14 hours
Less than 8 hours
More than 14 hours
School-aged Children (6-13 years)

 

9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours
More than 12 hours
Teenagers (14-17 years)

 

8 to 10 hours 7 hours
11 hours
Less than 7 hours
More than 11 hours
Young Adults (18-25 years)

 

7 to 9 hours 6 hours
10 to 11 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 11 hours
Adults (26-64 years)

 

7 to 9 hours 6 hours
10 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 10 hours
Older Adults (≥ 65 years) 7 to 8 hours 5 to 6 hours
9 hours
Less than 5 hours
More than 9 hours

 


This article was originally published in 2018. It is regularly updated. 

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