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Sleep Tips

How much sleep do I need for my age?

There's no doubt that sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any age, but the amount of sleep required at different stages of life can vary widely. However, knowing the ideal amount of sleep that one should be getting at a particular time of life is important so that you can lead your best life and avoid a number of surprising health issues.

So, if you've ever wondered: "How much sleep do I need?", you aren't alone. Here's how to tell if you and your loved ones are getting the ideal amount of sleep for your age:

How Much Sleep Do You Need By Age

Newborns

Unsurprisingly, newborn babies (0-3 months) have the highest sleep requirement, typically 16 to 18 hours a day. To get the rest their little bodies need, newborn sleep can be unpredictable and occurs around the clock, alternating with periods of wakefulness lasting from one to three hours. However, sleep periods may last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. And, about 50 percent of a newborn's sleep is spent in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep in which dreaming occurs. Although it is not entirely understood, it is believed that REM sleep helps in processing information acquired during the day.

Infants

As babies age, the amount of time they spend sleeping gradually declines. Infants (4 – 11 months) require approximately 12 to 16 hours of sleep every day. To achieve these hours of sleep, infant sleep often includes several daytime naps which may last from 30 minutes to two hours.

Additionally, during the infant stage of life, the circadian rhythm begins developing. As early as six weeks and by 3-6 months, most infants have established a regular sleep-wake cycle. And, by 9 months, around 70-80 percent of infants can sleep through the night because of their newly developed circadian rhythm.

Toddlers

As an infant develops into a toddler, they again need less sleep to properly function. Toddlers (1-2 years) need about 11 to 14 hours of sleep a day, including a daily nap of around an hour. However, a toddler's increasing social, cognitive and motor skills — and the development of imagination — can interfere with sleep. Resisting bedtime, waking up at night and demanding attention, nighttime fears and nightmares are common at this stage. However, these can be avoided if children learn good habits, such as only going to bed when sleepy, keeping regular hours, maintaining a good sleep environment and falling asleep independently of his/her parents.

Pre-schoolers

By the time a child enters pre-school (3-5 years), he or she require 11 to 13 hours of sleep a night. Usually daytime naps are no longer necessary by the time children reach five years of age, but some children can still use a nap to occasionally supplement nighttime sleep.

However, difficulty falling asleep and waking up at night can become common problems at this age. Further development of the child's imagination can also lead to nighttime fears and nightmares, and sleepwalking and sleep terrors are also common at this age.

School Aged Children

Once attending regular daytime school, children (6-13 years) should get about 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night. However, increasing demands on their time from school, sports and extracurricular activities can make this hard. Also, as children become more interested in television, electronic devices and the internet, this too can interfere with sleep.

Watching TV too close to bedtime is linked to bedtime resistance, trouble falling asleep,
and getting less sleep than what is needed. However, sleep deprivation in children of this age can be avoided by changes in the sleep environment that prevent distraction and practicing good sleep habits, including an early bedtime between 7 and 8 pm.

Teenagers

Teens (14-17 years) need 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night; however, it can be difficult to get enough sleep at this stage of life. Owing to changes in their “body clock," teens have a natural tendency to fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. This can lead to delayed sleep phase syndrome, a condition in which the sleep pattern is pushed so far forward that it is impossible to get to sleep until the early hours or the morning.

To avoid sleep related issues during the teenage years, it is imperative that children develop strong sleep practices and routines early in life. To help your teen get the sleep they need to perform their best, encourage healthy sleep habits and hygiene and lead by example by prioritizing sleep in your own adult life.

Adults

So, how much sleep do adults need? Not surprisingly, adults 18 years and older need less sleep than children and adolescents. But, adults still require 7-9 hours of sleep a night at minimum. As a person ages, the quality of sleep declines: adults spend less time in the deep stages of sleep and awaken more often in the night. Like teenagers, older adults also experience a change in the body clock, but in the other direction: they go to bed earlier at night and get up earlier in the morning. Despite changes in the body's clock, healthy sleep habits from an early age can prevent adults from encountering unwanted sleep-related illnesses later in life.

In short, understanding that sleep requirements at different ages is important to maintaining good health. This is because chronic sleep deprivation can lead to problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes, and even the development of mental illness. Adequate rest can prevent these problems and is a vital part of a good lifestyle!

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