Did you get much sleep last night? Do you always get enough sleep every night? Have you ever asked yourself, “How much sleep do I need?”
According to the guidelines of the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults should sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night. Teens, young children, and babies require more hours of sleep to ensure proper growth and development. Those who are over 65 must get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night.
Learning the general recommendations for the number of hours of sleep that a particular age group should take is just the first step. You also need to take a look at your individual needs based on some factors that may affect it, such as your overall health and the activities you engage in. Finally, it is vital to follow the healthy sleep tips to ensure that you will get the recommended full night’s sleep to get the maximum health benefits.
1 A General Guideline on
How Many Hours Sleep Do You Need
The ideal number of hours that a person needs to sleep at night depends on several factors, including his/her age. Here is a general guideline on how much sleep do you need by age:
- Newborn from birth to 3 months old need between 14 and 17 hours of sleep.
- Infants from 4 to 11 months old need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep.
- Toddlers from 1 to 2 years old need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep.
- Preschoolers from 3 to 5 years old need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep.
- Students from 6 to 12 years old need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep.
- Teenagers from 13 to 18 years old need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep.
- Adults from 18 to 64 years old need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.
- Older adults between 65 years and older need to sleep for 7 or 8 hours.
The recommended ranges of duration for nightly sleep for the different age groups are for healthy people. In some cases, sleeping an hour less than or more than the recommended range for your age may still be acceptable depending on your circumstances.
Aside from the age of an individual, other factors can affect how many hours sleep do you need to get a satisfying rest at night.
Take a look at the following factors:
The body of a pregnant woman undergoes certain changes during the early stage of pregnancy. These changes can affect the number of hours that she needs to sleep. During the first trimester, the rising levels of progesterone could partly be the culprit for the frequent need to pee and can make the pregnant woman drowsy. These things can disrupt sleep and make the sleepiness of a pregnant woman turn from bad to worse.
Younger and older adults require almost the same amount of sleep. You may notice some changes in your sleeping patterns as you get older. The older you get, the shorter the time spans of your sleep as compared to younger adults. As you get older, your body will no longer produce the same amount of melatonin that can help you fall asleep easily. Melatonin is the hormone that your body produces naturally. It is responsible for regulating your sleep cycle.
- Sleep Deprivation
If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, you may feel irritable, tired, moody, experience some difficulties in remembering and focusing, and have reduced libido. Your body craves longer hours of sleep. The usual causes are depression, chronic pain, sleep apnea, noisy environment, incorrect temperature, shifting time off work, leaving electronic devices on your bedroom side table, cramming for deadlines, and taking care of someone at night.
If you continue to deprive your body of sufficient sleep, you may likely suffer from illnesses or disorders like chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obesity, narcolepsy, and others.
- Quality of Sleep
A frequently interrupted sleep prevents you from obtaining the quality sleep that your body needs to function well. The sleep quality is just as vital as the sleep quantity. If you continue to get low-quality sleep, you may likely experience the issues that a sleep-deprived person usually encounters.
Some people say that they feel well-rested even if they just slept for a few hours each night. But, the negative effects can be seen in their performance. According to research, people who sleep only for a few hours for several nights yield unsatisfactory performance on complex mental tasks as compared to those who get to sleep close to 7 hours each night.
2 Truly, How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Many ask the same question – how much sleep do you need – for so many times. Despite being in the same age group, every person’s sleep requirements are still different from each other. Not everyone shares the same set of activities, hobbies, habits, work, and other things that may affect the actual amount of sleep that each person within the same age group may require to function well.
Some people require at least 9 hours of night’s sleep to feel well-rested. Others, who belong in the same age group, may feel very satisfied with sleeping 7 hours per night.
2.1 How to Know You Are Getting Sufficient Sleep
You need to consider your overall health, typical sleep patterns, and daily activities in determining how much sleep you need. If you are not certain whether you are getting enough sleep, you need to answer the following questions with honesty:
- Do you feel well-rested after sleeping for 7 hours at night, or do you feel that you need at least 8 or 9 hours worth of sleep?
- Do you experience drowsiness during the daytime?
- Do you usually rely on coffee or any caffeinated drink to keep you wide awake and alert throughout the day?
- If you are sleeping with someone, does he/she notice you showing any sleeping issues?
- Are you suffering from any health issues?
- Do you have a high probability of contracting any high-risk disease?
- Do you have a family history of sleep-related health problems or already contracted one?
You may discuss your answers with your doctor to get a proper evaluation. Your prompt action can prevent any possible health issue from escalating into a major one.
2.2 The Significance of Deep Sleep and REM Sleep
Sleep has four stages, and they are based on the activity of your brain. The first two stages are only light as compared to the latter stages.
The moment your brain waves begin to slow down and waking you up becomes more difficult, you are already in stage 3 or the deep sleep stage. During this time, your body is busy repairing your tissues, working on your development and growth, enhancing your immune system, and building up your energy for the following day.
The stage R or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep begins around 90 minutes after you have fallen asleep. The activity of your brain increases, your eyes dart around rapidly, your breathing and pulse speed up, and your blood pressure increases. Most of your dreaming happens during this time.
REM sleep is vital for memory and learning. It is when your brain processes all the information that you have gathered in one day, and your long-term memory serves as its storage.
2.3 Signs of Not Having Sufficient Sleep
If you can only manage to get less than 8 hours of night’s sleep, there’s a huge possibility that you are already suffering from sleep deprivation. The thought that your lack of sleep is already affecting you so much may not have even crossed your mind. You may already be experiencing the negative effects of lack of sleep and still brush it off as something that will not harm your overall health.
You will know that you are already sleep-deprived when you notice some telltale signs. Most of these signs are more subtle than waking up suddenly with your face on your dinner plate. Moreover, when you already developed the habit of skimping on sleep, you may have already forgotten the feeling of being fully alert or wide awake. You may think that feeling sleepy throughout the boring meeting, dozing off after having a meal, or struggling to stay awake in the afternoon is something normal for you. But, the truth is it feels normal because you are already sleep-deprived.
2.4 Sleep Deprivation Effects
Losing sleep may be something that can be regarded as a trivial matter, but not sleep deprivation. In fact, sleep deprivation can bring negative effects that are more than just daytime drowsiness. Sleep deprivation impairs your judgment, decelerates your reaction time, and affects your coordination. To be blunt, you are no better than a drunk when you are sleep-deprived.
The effects of sleep deprivation include:
- Elevated risk of contracting serious health issues that include certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke.
- Delirium, hallucinations, and impaired motor skills may cause an increased risk of accidents.
- Weakening of the immune system may lead to the frequent occurrence of infections and colds.
- Uncontrollable weight gain.
- Impaired brain activity can affect your memory, concentration, and ability to learn things easily.
- There’s an increased risk of depression, intensified irritability, and having mood swings.
- Decreased libido can lead to problems in your relationship with your partner.
- Diminished skills in problem-solving and creativity.
- Experiencing difficulties in making sound decisions.
- Feeling lethargic, tired, and unmotivated.
- Having difficulty controlling emotions and coping with stress.
- Signs of premature skin aging begin to manifest.
- You react slower than usual.
- Having memory problems.
3 How to Get the Needed Sleep
Practicing healthy habits can help improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. Consider the following tips that can help you boost your sleep health.
- Practice smart eating. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. This also includes limiting your caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine intake – especially in the evening. These substances may interrupt your sleep or create difficulty in falling asleep.
- Don’t bring your electronic gadgets in your bedroom. You need to turn off your electronic gadgets and don’t bring them into your bedroom. Avoid using your phone, TV, computer, and/or tablet at least an hour before you hit the sack.
- Create a bedtime routine. Avoid taking substances (like nicotine and alcohol), caffeine, and large meals at night. You also need to switch to soft lights for your bedroom. Try doing the activities that can make you relax, like taking a hot bath before you go to bed.
- Enhance your sleep environment. Designate your bedroom as the place where you get some shut-eye and be intimate with your partner. Keep it cool, quiet, and dark.
- Choose a comfortable mattress that provides good support. You may need to spend a little more than usual to get a good-quality mattress that conforms to your body. Include some quality bedding and pillows.
- Schedule a regular workout. Set a regular schedule to workout and aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise. Make sure to do it in the morning or way before your bedtime.
- Keep a schedule for sleeping. You need to make it a habit to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning, including weekends and holidays.
Many of these tips, suggestions, and recommendations can be used by children and teens to help them obtain the amount of sleep they need based on their age group. Parents should help their children in implementing suitable tips, especially those children that usually encounter some difficulties falling asleep.
Keep in mind that sleep quantity and sleep quality go hand in hand. It is possible to get the right quantity but not the quality of sleep that your body needs. If you failed to obtain quality sleep, you will still feel sluggish in the morning even when you got the right quantity. Improving your sleep hygiene often does the trick.
It is best to consult your doctor if a member of your household is manifesting symptoms such as chronic insomnia, breathing difficulty during sleep, tingling or leg cramps, chronic snoring, significant daytime sleepiness, or other symptoms that prevent you from attaining restful sleep.
The Bottom Line
If you want to sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night, you can use a sleep calculator to help you determine the most appropriate time to go to bed based on your wake up time each morning.
Ideally, you need to get up at the end of your sleep cycle, which is the period when you feel well-rested.
Thanks for reading.