Sleep is an essential bodily function for people of all ages; it restores your body and mind at the end of each day. This restorative process keeps us healthy, energized and improves mental clarity, memory, concentration, inflammation, mood and other vital aspects of the human body. On the flip side, a lack of sleep has been linked to negative health effects like poor mental health, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and even early death.
So, how much sleep do you need to be healthy? The answer depends largely on your age. Let’s review the recommended daily hours of sleep for each age group.
Newborns (0-3 months)
The suggested amount of sleep for newborns varies among experts. While the American Academy of Sleep Medicine finds no set recommendation for newborn sleeping hours, the Health of Canada's Children and Youth recommends 14 to 17 hours for newborns each day. That’s a lot of hours! This restorative sleep helps babies recover from their dramatic entrance into the world.
Babies (4-12 months)
As babies grow, they also require long hours of restorative sleep. Babies need anywhere from 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours, including naps. While many parents worry that their babies sleep too much, this amount of sleep is actually a sign of a healthy, growing little one. Basically, a baby has one job, and it's sleeping.
Toddlers (1-2 years)
Tiny tots need their naps for a reason, as it is suggested they require 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day as a part of healthy development. Make sure to prioritize nap time for their growing bodies and minds to recover properly from all the new things they learn in a day.
Kids: Preschool (3-5 years)
Young children also need a lot of sleep daily, between 10 and 13 hours. It’s clear why nap time during preschool is essential. At this age, it’s important to establish regular bedtimes, wake-up hours and nap times to ensure healthy sleeping habits for your child. Cozy companions like stuffed animals and nightlights can also help kids fall and stay asleep.
Kids: School age (5-12 years)
Growing kids still need more sleep than adults, with this age group needing between 9 and 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours. As all kids are different, some might need short naps after school, while others do not. Additionally, with some school hours starting earlier than others, it’s essential to promote a set bedtime and healthy wind-down routine to get enough sleep each night before early alarms. Cracking down on screen time before bed can help kids fall asleep faster and have better sleep quality.
Teens (13-18 years)
As teens grow and go about their busy school lives, they need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day to restore their hard-working minds and bodies. Nearing adulthood is an excellent time to start building life-long healthy sleep habits. Some of these habits include reducing blue light before bed, not eating too close to bedtime, learning stress management tools
, and sticking to a routine.
The recommended sleep time remains the same for all adults 18 and older: 7 to 9 hours sleep per night. Additionally, sleep quality is just as important as the hours of sleep one gets. High-quality sleep means getting enough of each sleep stage, like REM and deep sleep, and having minimal disturbances like tossing and turning. While the various stressors and busy schedules of adult life can make it hard to get enough sleep, it’s important to prioritize sleep in order to remain healthy, keep your mind and body strong, and prevent related diseases.
There is a common misconception that adults ages 60 and older don’t need as much sleep, but they also require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Some adults fail to get adequate sleep because aging bodies can have more difficulty falling asleep. Despite this, adults 60 and over should prioritize the same amount of sleep, as it is essential during all stages of life. Plus, adequate sleep helps prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, muscle loss and more.
Getting enough sleep is necessary at any point in life. While babies and young children require long bouts of sleep, required sleeping hours lessen to 7 to 9 hours as we get older. Nonetheless, those hours of actual sleep – not just time in bed – are essential for restoring the minds and bodies that work so hard for us every day. Making sleep a greater priority in your life can lead to increased mood and mental well-being, properly functioning bodies and a better fight against diseases.