"So now we know how much sleep we need. The National Sleep Foundation in the US has had 18 experts sifting through 320 research articles to deliver an updated version of its “sleep time duration recommendations”. The articles were whittled down from an original 2,412 on the basis of the strength of the studies.
In making their recommendations, the experts took into account the health benefits, but also the risks, associated with sleep. Too little sleep over several nights leaves you tired, unable to concentrate, depressed, anxious and, eventually, if it continues, at an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Too much sleep is associated with much the same problems.
So how much is the right amount of sleep? The new guidelines not only give recommended amounts, but also state what might be appropriate for different ages. Children aged 6-9 need 9 to 11 hours a night, but may get by on 7 to 8. Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours. 7 hours may be OK for some, but sleeping more than 11 hours a day may be detrimental to their health, although some may need that much during puberty.
Dr Lydia DonCarlos from Loyola University, Chicago, one of the experts on the study, says that the circadian rhythm of teenagers naturally shifts to make them feel sleepy later at night and to wake up later. This is a normal phenomenon and nothing to do with being addicted to social media. She warns that teenagers should still try to get enough sleep on a daily basis, rather than building up a sleep debt to pay off at weekends. “You can never quite make it up,” she says.
Adults aged 18-64 need to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night, but some cope on 6. For people over the age of 65, the recommended amount is between 7 and 8 hours, although some survive on 5 hours sleep (often waking up earlier and napping during the day).
The experts did not look at quality of sleep (for example, whether people woke up in the night and couldn’t get back to sleep) or its architecture (how much was rapid-eye movement and how much was slow-wave sleep). Some people may survive on less than recommended amounts because they get higher-quality sleep.
DonCarlos says that more research into sleep is needed. “We spend one third of our life asleep, but we know so little about it.” At least knowing how much to aim for is a good start".
These are the sleep-time recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation expert panel:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours per day
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
We at Healthcare RM have some really useful tips to get a good nights sleep which you can find here. You can try things such as light exercise, avoiding caffeine and alcohol and even avoiding use of technology! If you have any questions, concerns or would like to know more, give one of our Healthcare RM Health and Wellbeing experts a call on 0871 200 5060.
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