How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need?

Fact-Checked

Written By: Rebecca Levi
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sherrie Neustein

 

Although the purpose of sleep is still somewhat of a mystery, experts know that sleeping affects nearly every part of the human body. As a result, falling short on sleep increases a person’s risk of a variety of health problems, ranging from diabetes to depression. To remain healthy, people require adequate sleep on a regular basis.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Most adults should sleep for seven or more hours each night to avoid negative health effects, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS). However, exactly how much sleep an individual person needs varies depending on their age and other health factors.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides recommendations regarding how much sleep babies, children, adolescents, and adults require each night. The National Sleep Foundation provides similar specifications for people of those ages, as well as for newborns and older adults.

Age Amount of Sleep Recommended for Each 24-Hour Period
Newborns 0–3 months 14–17 hours
4–12 months 12–16 hours (including naps)
1–2 years 11–14 hours (including naps)
3–5 years 10–13 hours (including naps)
6–12 years 9–12 hours
13–18 years 8–10 hours
Adults 19–64 years 7–9 hours
65 years and older 7–8 hours

 

Note that for infants and children, the total recommended sleep time includes naps. Infants, especially, along with toddlers and young children, obtain much of their sleep in shorter periods during the daytime.

Also, although the National Sleep Foundation outlines average amounts of sleep required for newborns, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine does not. Instead, the organization points out that sleep at this age varies greatly from baby to baby, and more research is needed to determine how much sleep is needed for good newborn health.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that while sleeping for seven to nine hours should be sufficient for most healthy adults, sleeping for more than nine hours may be necessary for younger adults or when recovering from sleep deprivation or illness.

Determining How Much Sleep You Need

Different people require different amounts of sleep each night. Some factors that may impact how much sleep you need on a nightly basis include:

  • Genes
  • Age
  • Physical activity
  • Environmental factors
  • Illness

Sleeping an adequate amount is important to your health. Since there is no universally recommended sleep time, identifying your personal optimal amount of sleep might require experimentation. You can estimate how much sleep you need by paying attention to how long you sleep and noting how well you feel. To track your current sleep habits, you can use a written sleep diary or a digital device like a fitness watch or smartphone app. However, keep in mind that these devices can overestimate total sleep time.

Signs You May Need More Sleep

Daytime tiredness commonly indicates that a person needs more sleep. Research studies show that sleeping for less than seven hours each night is also associated with:

  • Weight gain
  • Health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression
  • Impaired immunity, which can make you more likely to catch a cold
  • Increased pain
  • Impaired physical and mental performance
  • Increased risk of errors and accidents

If you begin noticing you feel tired, moody, or weak, if you have trouble sustaining attention, or if you experience any of the other effects associated with sleep deprivation, you may need more sleep.

Signs You Are Sleeping Too Much

People who consistently sleep for more than nine or 10 hours per night are more likely to have obesity or a mood disorder, though it is not clear whether long sleep is a cause or result of these conditions. Sometimes people may also sleep too much because they have a sleep disorder, like hypersomnia or narcolepsy. As with sleep deprivation, longer sleep times can be associated with sleepiness and an increased risk of accidents.

If you sleep more than average, but feel well-rested and energized, you might simply require more sleep than others. By contrast, if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, mood issues, or any other problems along with long sleep times, talk to your doctor.

Signs That You Sleep Enough

When you receive adequate, restorative sleep, you should not experience the issues associated with either sleep loss or oversleeping. You will likely feel refreshed after waking and feel fully awake throughout most of your day. Performing your daily tasks should feel manageable, and you should be less prone to confusion, errors, and accidents compared with someone who is sleep-deprived or oversleeping.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Sleep Schedule

Practicing good sleep hygiene can help ensure you get the sleep you need. Try these tips:

  • Keep consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, including on weekends and holidays
  • Establish in a relaxing nighttime routine before bed, like reading or taking a bath
  • Avoid screens before sleeping, such as from a TV, computer, phone, or tablet
  • Keep your bedroom comfortably cool, quiet, and dark
  • Exercise regularly, but not in the hours before sleep
  • Avoid large meals and caffeine in the evening

References

+ 11 Sources
  1. 1. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
  2. 2. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26039963/
  3. 3. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27250809/
  4. 4. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/
  5. 5. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30568521/
  6. 6. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/sleep-diary
  7. 7. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30577441/
  8. 8. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26118561/
  9. 9. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25226585/
  10. 10. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23846792/
  11. 11. Accessed on December 9, 2021.https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-sleep#good

Related Reading:

  • How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

    Learn exactly how much sleep babies need at each age and why they must sleep so much more than children and adults.

  • How Exercise Affects Sleep

    Having trouble sleeping? Try exercising. Research shows that exercise helps you sleep, but the type of exercise and when you do it matter. Learn more here.

  • How Does Technology Affect Sleep?

    Technology can have a negative effect on your sleep patterns. Discover the specific ways that different devices can affect your ability to sleep at night.