Health & Diet

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Angel SleepsPhoto by planetchopstick

The National Sleep Foundation in the United States has had many studies in order to deliver an update of its sleep time duration recommendations. In making the update, the researchers took into account the health benefits as well as the risks, which are associated with sleep.

Too little sleep over a few nights leaves your tired, depressed, unable to concentrate, anxious and, over time, if it continues, at an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. On the other hand, too much sleep is associated with the same problems.

So, how much sleep do we really need? The new guidelines give recommended amounts and also state what might be appropriate for different ages. School age children (6-13) need 9 to 11 hours, but may get by on 7 to 8. Teenagers (14-17) need 8 to 10 hours. 7 hours may be fine for some, but sleeping more than eleven hours a day can be detrimental to their health, even though some may need that much during puberty. Circadian rhythm of teenagers naturally shifts in order to make them feel sleepy at night and to wake up later.

This phenomenon is completely normal and has nothing to do with being addicted to social media. It is important that teenagers try to get enough sleep on a daily basis, rather than trying to sleep longer at weekends. Adults, who are aged 18 to 64, need to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night, although some cope on 6. People who are 65 or older, should sleep between 7 and 8 hours, even though some survive on 5 hours sleep (usually waking up earlier and napping during the day). These recommendations are based on studies of the National Sleep Foundation. The methodologies do vary.

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Some of them are based on how much sleep people reported they had had, and other are based on research in laboratory conditions. The expert didn’t look at quality of sleep or its architecture. For example, whether people woke up in the night and couldn’t get back to sleep or how much was slow-wave sleep and how much was rapid-eye movement. There are some people who can survive on less than recommended amounts of sleep because they get higher-quality sleep. More research is needed when it comes to sleep. We spend 1/3 of our life asleep, but we still know so little about it. However, knowing how much to aim for is a good start.


The following list contains sleep-time recommendations from the Nation Sleep Foundation:

– Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours of sleep each day
– Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours of sleep each day
– Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours of sleep each day
– Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours of sleep each day
– School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours of sleep each day
– Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours of sleep each day
– Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours of sleep each day
– Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours of sleep each day
– Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours of sleep each day


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