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How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Healthy Sleep

Quality over quantity is a phrase used to describe a multitude of activities and situations. In regard to sleep, each element is equally important. Every person requires quality sleep to function and be productive throughout the day. The quantity, while determined by different factors, relies heavily on age. Newborns typically demand 14-17 hours until they reach three months. Gradually reducing over time until you hit 18, the amount of sleep needed rounds off to at least seven hours a night for most adults. Missing out on sleep is detrimental to your health at each stage of life.

Babies and Young Children

Newborns, acclimating to life outside the womb, will have intermittent sleep as their bodies work to figure out a circadian rhythm. Once a child reaches the infant stage, 4-11 months, they will begin to sleep longer at night and take naps during the day. Infants and toddlers need a similar amount of sleep from around 11-15 hours, depending on the child. Toddlers at ages one to two may begin to drop their second daytime nap. During the preschool stage, children ages 3-5 begin to actively fight and voice their opinions against a daytime nap. While this age needs 10-13 hours at night, a nap during the day is essential to healthy sleep and daytime productivity. School-age children are at the stage where they do not require a nap during the day and should sleep 9-11 hours at night. If a child in this age range of 6-13 is overly tired during the day and consistently desires a nap, they might not be getting enough sleep at night. Obtaining the recommended amount of sleep for children is linked with improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, the ability to control emotions, quality of life, and mental and physical health.


Teenagers may seem like a completely different species compared to children and adults, but their sleep needs begin to decrease to a similar level to those 18 and older. Teens require 8-10 hours but most only achieve 6.5-7.5 hours of sleep per night. At 14-17 years of age there is a change in the timing of sleep as a teen’s body clock naturally shifts to make them feel tired later in the evening. While normal during this stage of life, an overabundance of missed sleep can affect their mental wellbeing and reduce their academic performance at school. It is essential to concentrate on healthy sleep hygiene at this time to increase the opportunity for quality sleep.


Once you reach the age of 18 and are considered an adult, the recommended amount of sleep levels off to seven to nine hours throughout the next stages of life. With more responsibility and increased life changes, it is crucial to implement strong sleep habits into your routine in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. Regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep a night has been linked with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.

Sleep Hygiene

Using these guidelines to calculate your required amount of sleep also comes with the knowledge that ideal sleep is determined by various factors. In order to effectively decide how much sleep you need, your overall health, daily activities, and typical sleep patterns must be considered. An established way to achieve better rest is to improve your sleep hygiene towards having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Examples of sleep hygiene improvements include:

  • Create a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Practicing a relaxing pre-bed routine.
  • Create an optimal sleep environment.
  • Disconnecting from electronic devices like mobile phones and laptops for a half-hour or more before bed.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol before bed.

If you are consistently experiencing poor sleep and are unable to determine the cause, it may be beneficial to consult a sleep specialist. Make an appointment with the Comprehensive Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center today to start your journey towards quality sleep.