How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? Reviewing Healthy Sleep Ranges for All Ages.
BY ZEE KRSTIC
Mar 19, 2021
Sleep is so essential for an active, productive day — but many don't realize just how crucial a good sleep routine is for your holistic health (and appearance!). Getting enough sleep does much more for your body than it does for your mood, believe it or not; during what's known as REM sleep, your brain processes information you've taken in during the day and improves your long-term memory. Plus, your body often works on repairing itself during a good night's sleep, and in younger adults and children, growth development also occurs overnight. Researchers are discovering more links between a healthy sleep routine and other holistic benefits, from nutrition and metabolism to emotional wellbeing, every year.
And since you're looking into how many hours of sleep you should be getting each night, now's a good time to answer the age-old question: Can you really "catch up" on lost sleep? If you're someone who likes to sleep in on weekends and be a night owl during the work week, listen up: Recent research out of the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that people who regularly "sleep in" on weekends end up less healthy than those who are routinely sleep-deprived. It's best to try and actively get as much routine sleep as possible — even on the weekends.
But how much sleep you should be getting really depends on your lifestyle. Sleep experts with medical backgrounds have previously established that multiple factors determine how long you should be sleeping each night — often, the amount of your daily physical activity comes into play, plus any pre-existing health conditions, and more. A major factor that currently dictates widely accepted sleep guidelines is age.
How many hours of sleep do you need?
The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors — especially your age. While sleep needs vary significantly among individuals, consider these general guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation for different age groups:
Children (6-13) should get between 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17) should get between 8-10 hours
Adults (18-64) should get between 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+) should get between 7-8 hours
There are more ranges for children under 6 years of age, but the slight reduction in overall sleep for those over the age of 65 is intentional. It is true that people can indeed skimp on sleep naturally as they age, explains Michael Grandner, PhD, the director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, who dissects bedtime habits in his work as a sleep advisor to Casper. He adds that researchers have previously established that as people age, sleep can become more shallow, and people are more likely to get up during the night.
"It's not clear whether people need less sleep as they age — one thing that does seem to change is that, even as sleep is more broken up and less restful, older people are more resilient to sleep loss," he explains. "Sleep loss doesn't have the same associations with long-term health for older individuals as it does in younger people."