Making sure you’re getting enough sleep you get will have a huge effect on your overall wellbeing, but how many hours do you actually need every night? Let’s take a look.
Adequate sleep in one of the most crucial elements of a healthy lifestyle, as important as a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. However, many of us still do not get the sleep we need.
Busy schedules and daily distractions are often cited as the reason behind a lack of sleep, and this can be detrimental to both your physical and mental wellbeing. By understanding your sleep needs, and being mindful of sticking to them, it is not hard to get on track with a healthy sleep schedule.
How Many Hours By Age?
As you might expect, the amount of sleep we need varies depending on age. From when we are born until adulthood, our sleep needs change relatively rapidly; then, throughout adulthood, they plateau.
Here’s a look at how many hours of sleep we need by age, according a recent study by the Sleep Foundation.
• Newborns (0-3 months) 14 – 17 hour are needed, 11 – 19 hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• Infants (4 -11 months): 12 – 15 hours are needed, 10 – 18 hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• Toddlers (1 – 2 years old): 11 – 14 hours are needed, 9 – 16 hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• Preschoolers (3 – 5 years old): 10 -13 hours are needed, 8 – 14 hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• School age children (6 – 13 years old): 9 – 11 hours are needed, 7 – 12 hrs hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• Teenagers (14 – 17 years old): 8 -10 hours are needed, 7 – 11 hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• Younger adults (18 – 25 ): 7 – 9 hours are needed, 6 – 11 hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• Adults (26 – 64): 7 – 9 hours are needed, 6 – 10 hours may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
• Older adults (65 years and older): 7 – 8 hours hours are needed, 5 – 9 hours, may be appropriate, less or more is not recommended.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
These guidelines give fairly broad ranges because it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly how much sleep individuals need. There are too many factors at work. Aside from age, genes, health and lifestyle play a very important role in determining how much sleep you need. The above are rule-of-thumb ranges that have been agreed upon by experts, but when it comes down to it, you need to listen to your body and pay attention to your individual needs.
You may not be getting enough sleep if you:
• Still feel tired, unproductive, or unhappy after just 7 hours.
• Feel sluggish or sleepy in the afternoon.
• Rely on the snooze button on an alarm to wake up or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
• Feel the need to nap or snooze during the day or on the weekend.
• Get drowsy after meals, while driving, or during meetings or lectures.
• Depend on caffeine or other stimulants during the day.
• Nap in the evening while watching TV or reading.
To get a rough understanding of how much sleep you need, Dr. Nathaniel Watson, MD and president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, suggests taking the opportunity of a holiday to “test” yourself.
“Try going to bed around the same time each night and waking up without an alarm clock for several days,” he says. After allowing a few days for your sleep cycle to balance out, you should get a rough indication of the correct amount of sleep for you. This should fall somewhere between the 7 to 9 hour mark.
What Are The Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep?
Aside from feeling groggy and grumpy, not getting enough sleep can have many negative impacts on your health. These range from short term effects to long term issues, both mental and physical.
• Trouble with thinking, memory and concentration.
• Lower immunity, meaning you will be more susceptible to foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
• Mood swings, and even depression.
• Greater risk of high blood pressure.
• Higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, which can contribute to heart disease.
• Higher blood sugar levels and increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
• Greater risk of weight gain due to imbalances in hormones that control appetite.
To avoid the negative impacts of sleep deprivation, make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night, and if you are still feeling like you aren’t getting enough, try 8 or 9 hours. Adopt good sleeping habits and your body will thank you. You can read more about why getting a good night sleep is important here.