Knowing how much sleep to get can often be confusing and a little mind-boggling, but it’s important to get it right in order to feel good and to stay healthy. Each one of us requires a different amount of sleep due to our varying lifestyles, bodies, health statuses and ages. It’s important to get the right amount of sleep because too little or too much can make you feel tired and also affect your overall health.
With copious views and differing advice online and in print, it can often be difficult to decipher how much sleep is right for you and your family. There are, however, a few research bodies and science-based findings that have categorised how much sleep we all need, depending on our age.
Throughout this article, we’ll discuss these findings and uncover the recommended amount of sleep suggested for babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults and seniors.
Ready to find out how much sleep you may need?
How much sleep do you really need?
Sleep needs can vary. It’s recommended that most adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, although some need as little as 6 or as many as 10 hours of sleep. Those over the age of 65 require between 7 and 8 hours each night and babies, children and teens need the most to help them grow.
Sleep hours by age
Required Hours of Sleep
Children (school age)
How much sleep babies need
The amount of sleep babies need depends on how old they are. As newborns, the National Sleep Foundation recommends they should have between 14-17 hours of sleep from 1-3 months of age. As a baby reaches 4-11 months of age, this sleep allowance drops down to 12-15 hours of sleep.
How much sleep toddlers need
They recommend that toddlers from the age of 1-2 years old should sleep for 11-14 hours a day, which is slightly less than a baby requires.
How much sleep children need
Children need different amounts of sleep depending on their age group. From the ages of 3-5, children need 10-13 hours of sleep. As children hit the ages of 6-13, this amount decreases to 9-11 hours.
How much sleep teenagers need
Teenagers can often need more sleep than you think. In fact they need a minimum of 8-10 hours of sleep according to the NHS and many other sources state that they may need more. Some may need as little as 7 or as much as 11 hours of sleep.
How much sleep adults need
Adults need a varying amount of sleep, depending on their lifestyle choices, their age and many other factors. However, as a rough figure, the NHS states that adults need between 6-9 hours of sleep. Whereas the Sleep Foundation and Mayo Clinic recommend a minimum of 7, rather than 6 hours.
How much sleep seniors need
Adults aged 65 and older should get between 7-8 hours of sleep, but this amount can also vary and be more or less depending on the individual.
How were the recommended sleep hours created?
There are many sources online that offer information on recommended sleep hours, however, finding a reliable source can be tricky. When you’re looking for answers, it’s best to choose a reliable source that is science-based and well-known, although having said that, reading around can’t hurt as it’s good to soak up differing opinions.
The National Sleep Foundation created their recommended sleep times by asking a panel of 18 sleep, science and medicine experts to gather and review hundreds of validated sleep duration research studies and their health outcomes. The experts then used the power of voting to debate and decipher the exact sleep ranges each age group needed. The entire process was intensely thorough and took just under a year to complete.
There are other organisations that have their own recommendations on sleep times, but they usually coincide with The Sleep Foundation’s timings and other well-respected organisations' timings.
How to know if you get enough sleep?
It can be hard to know if you’re getting enough sleep, but there are ways to find out. Sleep-monitoring devices can often track the time you spent asleep and in some cases, the different sleep stages you experience throughout the night. This information can be useful as it informs you if you’re getting enough (or too much) deep sleep, as well as total time asleep. The MyKokoon app and Nightbuds work together to monitor your sleep. They monitor the time it took to fall asleep, your total time asleep and your wake and bed times. All helpful stats to help you know if you’re getting enough sleep.
Other ways to know if you’re getting enough sleep, without the help of technology, include keeping a sleep diary and noting the estimated time you went to sleep and woke up. You can also make notes on how you feel the moment you wake up, for example groggy or energetic, and also the way you felt throughout the day. This can be a good way to check up on whether you’re getting enough sleep or too much sleep.
What if you don’t get enough sleep?
Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health. It’s not just about getting the right quantity of sleep, but also getting the right quality of sleep. If you’re getting the right amount of hours of sleep each night, but not enough good quality sleep, then those hours spent sleeping in bed can be counterproductive.
If you don't get enough quality sleep then you can feel exhausted, lose concentration, experience mood swings, gain unwanted weight and it may lower your immunity. Other serious problems that are associated with chronic sleep deprivation can include depression, heart issues and high blood pressure.
It’s important to remember that each of us is individual and we all have varying factors at play when it comes to sleep. For some, it might not be possible to get the total hours needed due to family or work commitments and for others sleeping on less hours is more than enough. Either way, take it easy on yourself when you start to change your sleep schedule - even the smallest tweaks can make impactful changes.
Tips on how you can get enough QUALITY sleep
- Find out how to wind down with a selection of well-loved sleep stories
- Discover the power of hypnosis for sleep
- Use in-ear headphones to mask disturbances and to play audio for sleep
- Use over-ear headphones to block noise and nap anywhere
- Tune into meditation to improve your bedtime routine
- Find an app to help you take control of your sleep
- Curb any racing thoughts by using these well-known techniques
Start getting the sleep you need
You can start getting the sleep you need sooner rather than later, if you dedicate enough time to making small changes to your sleep routine. Once you can identify the amount of sleep you need from our findings in this article, you can start to edit your sleep schedule and adjust your wind down routine.