Sleep is an integral part of our life. We need to rest our eyes so that we can perform tasks the next day and carry on with our lives. Depending on your age, you are required to sleep for a certain period of time so that your body can function normally. Those who consider themselves as nightowls get only a few hours of sleep per night. Even though they feel well-rested within that brief period, it actually does more damage than they imagine. Numerous studies also show that a person’s bedtime habit is crucial for their health.
So, how long does a person need to sleep to feel well-rested?
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the amount of appropriate sleep ranges for most age groups. Numerous studies also show that there is in fact a magical number associated with each age group. The process of sleeping allows many critical brain and body maintenance functions to take place, that are not possible when we are awake. So, every time you are prolonging your sleep, you are disrupting the process, which can have a huge impact in your life.
Some individuals are short sleepers, who only require seven hours, while others, long sleepers, will need nine to feel rested. Genetic studies also show that there are some, who are capable of thriving on less sleep. For instance, while most people feel tired after a 5-6 hour sleep cycle, they can thrive. It’s also a good idea to keep track of your sleep cycles, since numerous studies have linked less sleep with depression. A summary of the new recommendations includes:
Newborns (0-3 months): 14 to 17 hours
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that newborns receive at least 14-17 hours each day. Previously, the requirement was 12-18. A new study also suggests that erratic bursts of sleep may correspond to growth spurts. (source)
Infants (4-11 months): 12 to 15 hours
Sleep is especially important for infants as it directly impacts mental and physical development. The National Sleep Foundation reports that infants typically sleep 9-12 hours during the night and take 30 minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day.
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours
In a 24 hour period, toddlers require about 11-14 hours of sleep. NSF also reports that by 18 months, the nap times will decrease to once a day lasting about one to three hours.
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
Previously, the requirement was 11-13. NSF also reports that during this time period, the development in imagination and the need for independence can make it difficult for them to fall asleep. It is also common for them to wake up in the middle of the night.
Elementary schoolers (6-13 years): 9 to 11 hours
The NSF suggests that this age group receive a required amount of 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night. The requirement can be extremely difficult to achieve since this time period is when they become interested in TV, internet, and media. Apart from that, school work and extracurricular activities can have an impact on the time frame. According to the NSF, watching TV close to bedtime has been linked to bedtime resistance, difficulty in sleeping and sleeping fewer hours.
Teenagers (14-17): 8 to 10 hours
It is detrimental that this age group receive the required 8 to 10 hours of sleep. However, one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights. At the same time, more than half of them reported that they sleep in late on the weekends. The NSF reports that this can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.
Young adults to adults (18-25 and 26-64): 7 to 9 hours
This age group not only requires regular exercise to stay fit, but also requires getting enough sleep every night. The National Sleep Foundation’s latest sleep recommendations, published March 2015 in the journal Sleep Health, requires that you get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Those who get a few hours of sleep or poor sleep, could be opening Pandora’s box to emotional and physical problems. In fact, data shows that with sleep loss, there are changes in the way the body handles glucose. There is also evidence that lack of sleep alters appetite regulation.
Older adults (65 years or older): 7 to 8 hours
The short answer is that your grandma and grandpa need just as much sleep as you do. However, about 44 percent of the elderly population report that they have trouble sleeping. This is one of the main reasons for cognitive decline. Studies show that in older adults, a decline in physical activity after retirement can alter their sleep/wake cycles. So, it is detrimental that they get regular exercise such as a short walk around the neighborhood.
Does a regular bedtime routine make a difference in your life?
A bedtime routine is extremely important for all age groups. A study found that those who have a regular bedtime routine perform better in tests of executive function, working memory, inhibition, attention, and cognitive flexibility. Another February 2019 study found that the idea of trying to “catch up” on sleep during the weekend is nothing more than a myth. Even if you sleep 12-14 hours during the weekend, trying to compensate for the lost sleep, when you return to your sleep-depriving habits during the week, you won’t be able to balance it.
“We know that not getting enough sleep results in the chemistry of our body, the biology of our body, failing to work the way it’s supposed to work. It might be akin to the timing of a gasoline engine. If the timing of the engine, the movement of the parts, is off a little bit, the engine can still run. It just won’t run efficiently,” explains Michael Twery, PhD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.
Tips and tricks for better sleep.
According to experts, it’s important to keep your alarm clock to rise at the same time each day, even during the weekends. Also, set a regular bedtime and stick to it as best you can. By doing so, you are training your body to follow a routine. Experts also suggest to cut down on naps during the weekends since they can mess with your regular sleep-wake patterns. Shutting down electronics an hour before bed-time can also help you sleep better at night.