How Much Sleep Do You Need, Really?

January 7, 2021

When you ask, “How much sleep do I need?” you’ll most likely get people throwing around numbers between six and twelve. We all have that one friend who says,

“Oh, I can survive on four hours of sleep just fine.”

And yet that other one who says,

“If I don’t get my fourteen hours in, I’m a grumpy Gus.”

While the hours of sleep you need vary from person to person, the recommended hours mainly depends on your age.

Of course, there have been some scientific studies that have determined your genes play a role in whether you’re a sleep-machine or a just-a-few-hours-and-I’m-peachy kinda person.

That’s why the number of hours of sleep by age are really just guidelines. If you find yourself needing a little more or less, then that’s fine too. But it’s essential to get enough high-quality sleep, no matter your age or gene pool.

Hours of Sleep by Age

Newborns sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.

Toddlers and young kiddos require naps to refcharge their growning bodies and brains.

Teenagers typically sleep long into the afternoon.

Adults tend to fall into a normal individualized sleep pattern.

Older adults often have more trouble sleeping than they did in younger years.

Infographic explaining how many hours people need to sleep by age.

 

All these changes in sleep patterns are completely normal. We don’t have to tell you, aging changes your brain and body. Part of these changes include how much sleep you need to sufficiently refresh your brain and body for optimal health.

Why Babies and Kids Need More Sleep

Have you ever really thought about the saying, “I slept like a baby”? If you’ve given it any real thought, that’s not such a good thing. While babies sleep on and off a large chunk of day, it’s not one solid 14-18 hour stretch.

(Sorry, parents.)

 

Why? Well, that’s because their  sleep cycles are shorter than yours.

Adults typically spend about 90 minutes in the four stages of sleep, babies complete their sleep cycle in 60 minutes. Those little bundles of joys go from light sleep, to deep sleep, hang out in REM sleep, and return back to light sleep faster than you do. That means they are more likely to wake during the light sleep cycles more often than you.

Babies spend 50% of their hours of sleep in the REM stage, while you spend only 15% of your sleep here. That’s because this is where your brain stores memories, and their cute little brains are busy busy busy storing lots of new info.  

Think about it. How much sleep do you need after a long, hard day at work, or after cramming tons of information into your brain at school? You probably feel drained and find yourself daydreaming about your bed.

When it comes to kids, well, they need naps not only for their parents’ sanity, but for their development too. Kids spend their days learning and expending energy, so their bodies and brains need more hours of sleep to sufficiently recharge.

Photo of kids running.

Why Teens Have Strange Sleep Patterns

Teens and sleep. There’s a conundrum.

If you’re the parent of a teenager, or if you remember being a teen yourself, you know their sleep schedules are often much more different than adults’. Perhaps you’ve gotten into an argument that includes your teens’ rebuttle, “I don’t want to go to bed, I’m not tired! How much sleep do I need?”

Totally normal.

Photo of a tired teen boy asleep at his desk in school.

The sleep drive of teenagers builds slower than than of adults which means they don’t feel sleepy until later in the evening. Their body also waits longer to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Because of this, they tend to become night owls and, if given the chance, will go to sleep on ungodly hours and wake up in the late hours of the afternoon the following day.

Also normal. The biological delay in teenagers’ sleep-wake cycle means they really can’t fall asleep early (typically). So when they’re forced to get up super early for school after going to bed late, their circadian rhythm gets messed up. That’s why it’s hard to get Johnny and Jenny up for school.

Blame it on nature. (But you don’t have to tell them that.)

Adults and Their Recommended Hours of Sleep

Okay. I know what you’re gonna say.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I need to get eight hours of sleep. Whatever. I’m busy!”

Well, it’s true. There’s no doubt about it. When you don’t get the recommended hours of sleep as an adult, you’re  putting yourself at risk for health problems.

  • Lowered immunity
  • Impaired memory
  • Slow reaction time (think drinking and driving - EEK!)
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Cancer (really!)

Sleep is where your body and brain restore themselves. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep is a great way to ensure a happier and healthier, and perhaps even longer, life.

Older Adults and Sleep Problems

As we age, our bodies produce less melatonin. And since melatonin helps you stay asleep, when you don’t have as much of it coursing through your veins, it’s more difficult to get into that restorative deep sleep for very long.

Older adults also tend to develop more health issues as they age. Pain and discomfort keep anyone up at night. Arhtritis, diabetes, heart disease, depression - all of these things disrupt sleep. And the medications to treat such maladies? They often disrupt sleep too.

Infographic of an older woman with the words,

How to Ensure You Get the Recommended Hours of Sleep

Don’t despair! No matter your age, you can  combat poor sleeping patterns. 

  • Prioritize sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce caffeine intake (even nursing mamas need to worry about this for their little ones)
  • Avoid screens at least one hour before bedtime
  • Make sure your  room temperature is ideal
  • Get help for serious sleep problems

Invest in a  weighted blanket

Your Recommended Hours of Sleep Are Within Reach

So there you have it. Sleep is not only wonderful and restorative, but it’s essential to the health of babies, toddlers, teens, adults, and older adults. I know, it’s easier said than done. But if you take a look at the first bullet point above, you need to prioritize sleep, no matter what stage of life you’re in.

One tangible way to help you get those glorious high-quality hours of sleep is by subscribing to the last bullet point above: get yourself a weighted blanket.

*NOTE: WEIGHTED BLANKETS ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS.

Weighted blankets (well, the good ones anyway), and help your body released melatonin and serotonin, the natural hormones your body releases as you begin to feel drowsy and drift off to sleep. They also reduce cortisol, allowing you to relax and stay asleep longer.

(Want to learn more about how weighted blankets work? Read more  here.)

Not convinced you’ll get those restorative Z’s with a weighted blanket? Well, we offer a risk-free 100-night sleep trial. What’ve you got to lose?

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