All of us have wondered whether we’re getting enough sleep at some point in our lives. There are several factors that impact the number of hours of sleep we should be getting, such as our age, genetics, sleep quality, etc. If you’ve ever wondered how much sleep do you need per night, read on to find out all the general science-backed recommendations, as well as some key points like whether we should take naps and what the consequences of not getting enough sleep are.
Our article also contains a section where we share some of our best tips that will help you get more and better quality sleep, as well as an FAQ section where we address some common concerns.
Let’s start by examining the sleeping guidelines that depend on our age group.
How Much Sleep Do You Need Per Night by Age Group
The number of hours of sleep you need per night largely depends on which age group you’re a part of. Keep in mind that while the recommendations below are science-backed, the exact hours of sleep you or your child need varies from individual to individual. According to this study published in Nature and Science of Sleep, we should individualise the amount of sleep we get while trying to stick to the recommended ranges.
We know that babies and children need more sleep on average in order to reach optimal growth, but how many hours exactly per day does that amount to?
Newborns need the most sleep, ranging from anywhere from 14 hours to 17 hours. Toddlers need a little less sleep on average as compared to newborns, so anywhere from 11 to 14 hours of sleep usually works well for them. If your child is aged from three to five, then it’s recommended that they get 10 to 13 hours of sleep. Children who have reached school age should get around 9-11 hours of sleep per night, while teens should sleep between 8 and 10 hours a night.
As far as adults are concerned, the general recommendation is for us to get from 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day. Some elders can get away with sleeping for 6 to 7 hours a day, although it’s recommended that they try to get as much sleep as possible. Certain sleeping conditions and disorders can affect the elder’s ability to get optimal, quality sleep for the recommended duration of time, which is also something to keep in mind.
Which Factors Influence the Amount of Sleep We Need?
Now that you know the recommended numbers based on age groups, let’s take a look at some other factors that can have an impact on the amount of sleep our bodies need on a day to day basis.
If you’re a healthy individual who exercises regularly and maintains a healthy diet, chances are you could get away with sleeping less than the average person. This doesn’t mean that cutting down on the number of hours you sleep will work for everyone who leads a healthy lifestyle, so make sure you listen to your body throughout the whole process.
On the other hand, if you suffer from certain chronic health problems, you might need more sleep than the average person.
Athletes and those who have taxing jobs naturally require more sleep in order to make up for the energy that they burn during the day.
Finally, certain sleep disorders lower the quality of our sleep, making us want to fall asleep for longer to make up for the lost quality.
What About Naps?
All of us have nights when we barely get any sleep and feel exhausted the next day. However, taking a nap always seems to remedy our lassitude and restore our energy levels. If you struggle to get enough sleep on some nights, daytime naps might help put an hour or two to your total hours of sleep per day. If you find yourself feeling tired after taking longer naps, then we recommend sticking to power naps – usually 20 to 30 minutes long – that serve as a quick and efficient energy boost and mood lifter.
With that said, naps can also be destructive. If you take naps that are longer in duration, you risk messing up your sleeping schedule for the night. Nothing beats having hours upon hours of uninterrupted, deep sleep, so try not to rely too much on naps to make up for the total amount of hours you sleep in a day.
If you find yourself needing multiple naps a day despite having a relatively normal sleeping schedule, that might be a sign that your tiredness could be attributed to a sleep disorder, so we recommend seeing a professional about it.
The Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep
We all know how harmful not getting enough sleep is in theory, but not all of us are aware of exactly what our bodies undergo when we fail to get the recommended amount of sleep. Here are some unpleasant side effects that can happen if you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep.
- Your risk of getting cancer increases. One of the scariest consequences of lack of sleep is your increased risk of cancer. Many studies have proven that by failing to get enough sleep we’re increasing our risk of certain cancers like breast cancer.
- Weight gain. Another side-effect that can have a negative impact on your overall health is weight gain. Not getting a sufficient amount of sleep increases ghrelin, our hunger hormone, which makes us hungrier and more eager to reach for unhealthy, fast food, leading to weight gain.
- It takes a toll on your energy levels. Needless to say, failing to get at least seven hours of sleep will likely make you tired and lethargic during the day, which has a direct consequence on your overall quality of life.
- You’re more prone to get in a car accident. Tired drivers are a common reason behind car accidents.
- You’re more forgetful and your problem-solving abilities diminish. You might’ve noticed that whenever you lack quality sleep, you’re more prone to forgetting certain details and being foggy-brained. It also impacts your problem-solving abilities which are a crucial component of many jobs and occupations.
- Your immune system plummets. Another very common occurrence with sleep deprivation is a poor immune system. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies lose the ability to ward off illness effectively, leaving us prone to different types of infections.
- Your skin starts to look dull and tired. They don’t call it beauty sleep in vain. Sleep deprivation makes us more prone to wrinkles, dark circles, and dull skin tone. If you notice these skin changes in yourself and can’t pinpoint a specific cause, you might want to take a look at your sleep hygiene.
Is Oversleeping Just as Unhealthy?
Some of the side effects of not getting enough sleep are terrifying, but does oversleeping come with the same side effects?
Though oversleeping isn’t as common as not getting enough sleep, there are some very unpleasant side-effects of practising oversleeping on a regular basis, such as an increased risk of diabetes or stroke. Experts identify oversleeping as anything above the recommended sleep, which, in the case of adults, would be over nine hours.
Signs You’re Sleep Deprived
In order to tell if you’re sleep-deprived and chronically getting less sleep than your body needs, watch out for these signs:
- Feeling tired or irritable when you wake up first thing in the morning;
- Being forgetful or quickly losing concentration;
- Taking frequent naps during the day or falling asleep when you don’t expect to;
- Having trouble getting up with an alarm clock.
With that said, let’s move on to some valuable advice that can help you get the much-needed sleep you deserve.
Tips to Get More and Better Quality Sleep
By now you already know how much sleep you need based on your age group, but it’s a lot easier to know that in theory than to implement it in your life and get good quality sleep on a regular basis. For that reason, we included a section that covers some of our best tips that will help you seamlessly get better quality sleep for an extended period of time.
Give Yourself Enough Time to Sleep
Although it seems simple enough, our first tip is to actually give yourself plenty of time to fall asleep and go to bed as early as you can. This means spending enough time in bed without any distractions like social media or TV. Your body will be more likely to relax and you’ll end up getting more sleep in total.
Create a bedtime routine
All of us have some kind of a bedtime routine, whether we consciously know it or not. Our usual activities include brushing our teeth, doing our skincare, reading, or even some habits that might be harming our sleep, such as scrolling through social media. To help you fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep in general, try to include habits in your night-time routine that are relaxing and that signal to your body that it’s time for bed, such as stretching, journaling, or listening to calming music.
Carefully Plan Your Workouts
Working out is very beneficial for our overall sleep, but the timing of our workout matters a great deal. If we work out too late in the day, we risk having a lot of energy at our disposal which could lead to us having trouble falling asleep. Try to schedule your workouts as early in the day as possible and only leave the exercises with lower intensity for the evening hours.
Be Smart with Your Naps
Taking short naps during the day is an easy and efficient way to get a quick energy boost and feel more refreshed and ready to take on your tasks, but if your naps are too long, you risk ruining your sleeping schedule and being unable to fall asleep when the time comes. To avoid this, try scheduling your naps early in the day and stick to 20-30 minute naps.
Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule
One of the easiest ways to routinely get quality sleep is to make yourself wake up and go to bed at the same time. Our bodies love predictability and once your body gets used to the new sleeping schedule, you’ll have no trouble falling asleep at a certain hour.
Limit your Alcohol and Caffeine Intake in the Evening
Unsurprisingly, these substances disturb our sleep and lower its quality, so make sure you either eliminate them completely or be strategic about when you consume them.
Is It OK to Get 5 Hours of Sleep?
The recommendation for adults is to get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep a night, so five hours is considered to be insufficient.
Is 8 Hours of Sleep a Night Enough?
Yes, eight hours of sleep a night is plenty.
One of the most commonly asked questions regarding sleep is how much sleep do you need per night. The main factor that determines how much sleep we need per night is our age. For instance, toddlers need from 11 to 14 hours of sleep, whereas adults only need 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Not getting enough sleep is detrimental to our health since it can lead to an increased risk of cancer, heart problems, and damage our immune system. Some tips you can implement to help you get better sleep quality include creating a relaxing bedtime routine, exercising earlier in the day, limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake, and take shorter naps earlier in the day.
Chaput, Jean-Philippe et al. “Sleeping hours: what is the ideal number and how does age impact this?.” Nature and science of sleep vol. 10 421-430. 27 Nov. 2018, doi:10.2147/NSS.S163071