How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?


Our current lifestyle is robbing us of sleep! In the last 15 years, the average adult has gone from 8 hours of sleep to only 7. Busy schedules and multiple jobs often take up a great deal of the day. Add managing a household and throw in a few children with after school activities and the day is done. Researchers have studied the question of how much sleep do we actually need and the following is a rough consensus from the current literature:

Age Hours of Sleep Needed
1-4 weeks old 15-16 hours
1-4 months old 14-15 hours
1-3 years old 12-14 hours
3-6 years old 10-12 hours
7-12 years old 10-11 hours
12-18 years old 8-9 hours
Adults 18-65 old 7-8 hours
Elderly 65+ old 7-8 hours *

* Elderly’s sleep may become fragmented and they may find it harder to stay asleep. Some rely on multiple shorter periods of sleep. This is normal for this age group.

The numbers above reflect the approximate lengths of sleep needed to maintain health, as when we are sleeping, our body is healing. When these times are decreased, many body systems do not work efficiently. One is the immune system and 7-12 year olds rarely get 11-12 hours sleep. They are very prone to catching bugs at school as their immune systems are not at peak performance. Add in mouth breathing due to chronic allergies or a blocked upper airway and these children do not stand a chance! Think about when you are sick. You tend to sleep a lot as this assists the immune system in fighting the illness.

Unfortunately, our lifestyles often do not allow the proper amount of sleep and this has a detrimental effect on the body. Sleep is an essential state that we cannot survive without. And quality sleep is essential for quality of life.