Sleep needs vary across different age groups, and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. When we ask, “How much sleep do we need?”, it’s important to assess not only where we fall within the sleep needs gamut, but also important to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of our sleep.
Recommended Amounts of Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council reviewed and revised the recommended sleep ranges for all children and teens, as listed below:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
To see sleep strategies for infants up through age five, refer to my article, “How To Help My Baby To Sleep – Six Scientifically-Based Strategies“.
Assess Your Sleep Needs
To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, begin by assessing your own individual needs and habits. See how you respond to different amounts of sleep, and ask yourself these questions:
- Am I productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take me nine hours of sleep to get me into high gear?
- Do I have health issues such as being overweight? Am I at risk of any disease?
- Am I experiencing sleep problems? See my article, “List of Sleep Disorders – What Are The Most Common?”
- Do I depend on caffeine to get me through the day?
- Do I feel sleepy when driving?
Make Sleep A Priority
You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your to-do list and cross it off every night, but don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done. Stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.
Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good night’s sleep. Ask yourself, “How often do I get a good night’s sleep?” Like good diet and exercise, sleep is a critical component to overall health.
To help you prepare for better quality sleep, follow these simple yet effective healthy tips:
- Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends. For more information, refer to my article, “Natural Cures For Insomnia – For Adults“
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
- Exercise daily
- Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
- Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine
- Turn off electronics before bed
How Much Sleep is Too Much?
The standard of normal amounts of sleep has long been considered eight hours, and it’s a good median benchmark. Recent reviews of current research from the experts at the National Sleep Foundation, however, broadened the spectrum a little. They say that somewhere in the range of seven to nine hours is normal and healthy for most adults between 18 and 64 years of age.
Some say closer to seven hours could be even better, such as Arizona State University professor Shawn Youngstedt, who said the lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours of sleep. Other researchers have also linked seven hours of rest with things like longevity and better brain health.
The “right” amount of sleep proves somewhat individual as some people will feel great on seven hours and others may need a little longer. However, in most studies and for most experts, over nine hours is considered an excessive or long amount of sleep for adults.
If you sleep in a little sometimes on the weekends, it’s likely no big deal. If you regularly sleep more than nine hours each night or don’t feel well-rested on less than that, then it may be worth taking a closer look. It’s estimated that about 2% of the population are naturally long sleepers, typically since childhood, but long sleep can also coincide with health issues and other treatable factors.
Health Risk Factors With Too Much Sleep
We often hear about the real dangers of getting too little sleep, but on the other end of the spectrum, sleeping too much also appears to have some risks.
Sleep is a rapidly growing field of research, and researchers are learning more all the time about how rest affects the body and mind. It’s known that sleep is a time when the body repairs and restores itself, and getting too little rest can lead to other health problems. More evidence is showing that spending an excess amount of time in bed is also linked with health hazards. In some ways, oversleeping itself appears to directly influence certain risk factors, and in other cases, it may be a symptom of other medical conditions.
The Health Impact of Too Much Sleep
Seeking to find the right amount of sleep for optimal health, researchers have looked at different habits connected with physical and mental well-being.
Several trends have emerged linking oversleeping with higher rates of mortality and disease as well as the following:
- Cognitive impairment
- Increased inflammation
- Increased pain
- Impaired fertility
- Higher risk of obesity
- Higher risk of diabetes
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Higher risk of stroke
As we have learned from this post, optimal health is associated with the right amount of sleep for our bodies and our minds. I hope this post has been as helpful to you as it has been to me. I will be assessing the amounts of sleep I feel best with, and making sleep a priority, and I hope you will too.
Also being aware of the health risk factors of too little sleep, and of too much sleep, is helpful to know, so we can apply that knowledge to our daily planning.
What I’ve learned from doing research for writing this post: I realize more and more how important enough sleep is for our well-being. On the other hand, I wasn’t aware that there are also health risk factors with getting too much sleep. Stayed tuned as I explore the topic of sleep further and share my findings with you here on my site. Together, we will be able to make future choices that will lead us to a better quality sleep and in return, a better quality of life.
Thank you for reading, and I invite you to leave your comments or questions below, and I will respond soon. Come back again to read more of my informative sleep posts. Bye for now.