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How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The amount of sleep one needs can vary for each person. There is a natural sleep-wake cycle that is recommended, by age, in order to ensure that you're getting enough sleep. The table below can help guide you on the amount of sleep that is recommended by age group:


Age Sleep Requirements
Newborns (0–2 months)16–18 hours
Infants (3–11 months)14–15 hours
Toddlers (1–3 years)12–14 hours
Preschool-aged children (3–5 years)11–12 hours
School-aged children (5–10 years)10–11 hours
Teenagers (11–17)9–10 hours
Adults7–9 hours

As we progress through these life stages, we need less sleep at night to feel rested, but senior citizens generally need as much sleep as young adults. One conflicting study by the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School suggests that senior citizens may need, on average, 1.5 hours less sleep than younger adults.

This is due, in part, to changing sleep patterns as we age. Older adults are more likely to take longer to fall asleep and are also more likely to wake up during the night, even if they have no history of sleep problems.

Those adults who continue to require 7–9 hours of sleep per night may still note changes in their sleep habits, such as growing tired earlier in the day or more rapid sleep cycles that require more time spent in bed to feel rested.

These changes should be no cause for alarm in older adults, as they do not indicate a sleep disorder and are a part of the aging process. However, doctors recommend napping during the day if you feel tired or your daily activities are affected. The best time of day to nap is after lunch in the early afternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. Naps should be short — around 10 to 30 minutes — and you should give yourself plenty of time to become alert again before resuming normal activities.


Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, National Sleep Foundation, Balanceittakesyou.com 

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