When it comes to how much sleep you need, there’s a big difference between what you need to get by and what you need to function optimally.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it might be less than what your body needs.
Just because you’re able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed. And it’s not just your productivity that suffers when you don’t get enough sleep. Insomnia and lack of sleep can have a major impact on your health, too. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation can cause:
- An increased risk for depression and anxiety.
- An increased risk for heart disease and cancer.
- Impaired memory.
- Reduced immune system function.
- Weight gain.
- An increased risk for accidents.
- An increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more. And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least seven hours. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.
So, how much sleep should you and your loved ones be getting? Here’s what the National Sleep Foundation recommends:
- Newborn to 3 months old: 14-17 hours recommended; 11-19 hours may be appropriate.
- 4 to 11 months old: 12-15 hours recommended; 10-18 hours may be appropriate.
- 1 to 2 years old: 11-14 hours recommended; 9-16 hours may be appropriate.
- 3 to 5 years old: 10-13 hours recommended; 8-14 hours may be appropriate.
- 6 to 13 years old: 9-11 hours recommended; 7-12 hours may be appropriate.
- 14 to 17 years old: 8-10 hours recommended; 7-11 hours may be appropriate.
- Young adults (18 to 25 years old): 7-9 hours recommended; 6-11 hours may be appropriate.
- Adults (26 to 64 years old): 7-9 hours recommended; 6-10 hours may be appropriate.
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours recommended; 5-9 hours may be appropriate.
- Check out our interview with Dr. Zoran Danov, a sleep expert at UK HealthCare. He discusses the importance of having a regular sleep schedule and how your diet can affect your shut-eye.
- The UK Sleep Disorder Center can help patients of all ages identify and manage sleep disorders, including daytime sleepiness and disturbed sleep. Learn more about our program.