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Sleep Requirements by Age

Sleep is one of the two vital requirements for every living creature, the other being food. From humans, the most superior being, to smaller creatures like plants and insects, everyone needs some time to rest. Without rest, it’s almost impossible to function optimally. Every living organism has energy reserves that deplete with use every day. During sleep, the energy reserves get recharged and replenished, allowing the being to feel fresh, alert, and energetic.

Sleep is definitely necessary for our overall wellbeing but besides that, it’s also a significant indicator of health. That’s right. The better your sleep quality, the healthier you are. If you have undisturbed sleep every night without resorting to sleeping aids and wake up feeling alert, refreshed and full of energy, it is a strong indicator of your health and vitality. If you are too stressed, have an underlying illness, or physical and emotional problems, it shows up by interfering with your sleep quality.

There are some people who do not need 7 to 8 hours to function normally. But there are those who need 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night in order to feel alert and fresh. This gives rise to a vital question: how much sleep do we really need? Do we really need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night or can the amount of sleep vary from person to person?

Sleep Requirement Changes

Although everyone requires a certain amount of sleep every night, the quantity of sleep varies from one person to another, as well as from one age to another. For instance, babies sleep for around 14 hours a day, because they need that amount of sleep for growth and development. But as a person grows older, the need for sleep decreases. An adult needs only 7 to 8 hours of sleep, compared to the half a day required by babies. No adult can regularly sleep for more than 12 hours, even if they try. This clearly indicates that the amount of sleep required by a person changes with age.

To prove this, the National Sleep Foundation chose to conduct a study over the course of two years, bringing onboard top researchers and scientists from leading organizations like American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, American Association of Anatomists, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Geriatrics Society, American College of Chest Physicians, among others.

After the findings of this study, the National Sleep Foundation modified the sleep requirements standards that were set earlier. The National Sleep Foundation is the leading organization on sleep, and all their studies are backed by 100 percent science. The Foundation has said that although it isn’t possible to suggest the exact amount of sleep that a person requires by age, what they can instead suggest is the recommended range of sleep everyone must be getting every day.

Sleep Requirement by Age

It’s true that our bodily requirements change with age, including sleep. While babies manage to sleep through everything, it’s often difficult to get older kids and teens to bed. Teens also find it hard to get out of bed during the weekend and sleep till late. For an adult, the sleep requirements are never the same. Some require more sleep than others, and some prefer to sleep during the day and work at night.

Scientifically, there is a set of sleep requirements that changes as the person grows older. This was found by the National Sleep Foundation in their new study.

Sleep requirements of a person changing with age:

  • -Newborns (0-3 months): Babies who have just been born can sleep anywhere between 12 and 18 hours. In fact, they can sleep for the whole day and that is the best thing in the world for parents. Typically, a newborn sleeps 14 to 17 hours every day, the longest any human ever sleeps. That’s because newborns need it for growth and development.
  • -Infants (4-11 months): The sleep requirement of infants isn’t too different from that of newborns. Infants can sleep anywhere between 13 and 15 hours, but most usually sleep for around 14 hours. It doesn’t necessarily mean they sleep at a stretch. Babies tend to wake up several times and go back to sleep after being fed.
  • -Toddlers (1-2 years): As the child grows, the amount of sleep they need decreases but still remains higher than that of the average adult. Toddlers also require 11 to 14 hours of sleep every day, which helps them grow and develop.
  • -Preschoolers (3-5): The children at the age right before starting school need 11 to 13 hours of sleep, which was earlier considered 10 to 13 hours.
  • -School-going children (6-13): As children start school, they get a social life and their energy reserves get used up quicker than usual. Although their sleep requirements decrease from what they needed as a baby, they still need anywhere between 9 to 11 hours of sleep
  • -Teens (14-17): Teenagers usually suffer from delayed sleep onset, which makes it hard for them to wake up early in the morning. Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
  • -Young adults (18-25): As a person turns 18, there are various responsibilities and commitments that make getting sufficient sleep harder. College, work, relationships, marriage are some of the factors that eat into sleep time. Ideally, young adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but not many get a sufficient amount.
  • -Adults (26-64): In this case also, the recommended sleep requirement is 7 to 9 hours. However, the required amount of sleep varies from one person to another.
  • -Older adults (65 and above): While sleep requirements change in seniors, the recommended range is 7 to 8 hours. In many cases, older adults do not sleep for eight hours every night—the number is much less. The quantity of sleep is affected by age as well as medical conditions and medications.

How to Get Sufficient Sleep

Do not go by the number of hours you sleep, if you always wake up feeling tired. In that case, you aren’t getting quality sleep, despite sticking to 7 to 9 hours. Remember that five hours of sound sleep is much healthier than eight hours of disrupted, fragmented sleep. Although there is a set amount of sleep every person needs, there is no reason why cannot sleep less or more if that helps you feel fresh and alert in the morning. As mentioned, sleep requirements vary greatly, so you should listen to your own body to figure out how much sleep it needs.

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