Recommended hours of sleep by age

October 19, 2020 4 mins read
Recommended hours of sleep by age

What are the recommended hours of sleep you need based on your age? As your body grows and changes over the years, so do your sleep requirements.

If you’re going to pick the right bedtime for you and your children, you need to know how much sleep is recommended by age.

How much sleep do you need?

You need more sleep as a child than as an adult. But fewer than 7 hours isn’t recommended for any age group.

Bedtimes and wake-up times for each person in the household should be determined by age. A sleep calculator can be a game-changer and help you find the best time to either go to bed or wake up according to your sleep cycles.

Here are the recommended hours of sleep by age:

Infants

Babies need more sleep at night because their brains and bodies are still developing.

Baby sleep cycles are between 40 and 50 minutes long. Their shorter sleep cycles make it easier for them to wake up frequently, to allow time for feeding (and bonding, of course!).

Babies need five times more REM sleep cycles in a 24-hour cycle than adults, which helps them process and store new information.

Here is how much sleep infants need according to their age:

  • Newborns to 3 months: 14-20 hours
  • 4 to 6 months: 10-18 hours
  • 6 to 12 months: 12-16 hours
  • 1 to 2 years: 12-14 hours

Children

Growing children still require a lot of sleep to aid in their development. Children need more human growth hormone than adults, which is produced during sleep.

Between everything they are learning in school and all their new life experiences, their brains still have a lot of new information to process.

Children who don’t get enough sleep can become hyperactive, show signs that mimic those of ADHD, have trouble focussing and experience problems related to growth.

So, how much sleep does your child need?

  • 3 to 5 years: 10-13 hours
  • 6 to 13 years: 9-11 hours

Teenagers

Between playing games online, social media, an endless supply of YouTube videos and video streaming platforms, plus dating and socialising with friends, there’s a lot of motivation for a teenager to stay up late.

However, it is crucial that teenagers (14-17 years old) get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. The brain still develops until 25 years old, so this is an important stage of development and growth for your teen.

Adults

Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

Few things age you faster than a lack of sleep. You might feel fine on fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night and believe that you don’t need more because you’ve stopped growing, but you’re accelerating the ageing process and doing harm to your body that you might not be aware of.

Adult sleep cycles are typically 90 minutes long. Adults need less REM sleep than infants and children because they need to process a lot less new information. However, you still need to get enough sleep because sleep is essential in so many bodily processes, such as hormone regulation, cell regeneration and healing.

Elderly adults

Elderly adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

Even though sleep needs decline between infancy and becoming an adult, your sleep requirements don’t decline further as you pass 60.

Unfortunately, many older adults get less sleep than they need because they struggle to fall asleep and wake up more during the night. This is partly due to the fact that medical conditions which cause insomnia and sleep problems are more common in elderly adults.

Melatonin is the hormone needed to help you prepare for sleep. But melatonin production can also decrease as you age. This explains why naps are more common in this age category.

The importance of getting the recommended hours of sleep

The benefits of getting enough sleep and going through all the necessary stages of sleep extend far beyond feeling rested during the day. Sleep is important for:

  • Brain development and health
  • Healthy energy levels
  • Hormonal health
  • Your metabolic health
  • Maintaining a healthy body composition
  • A healthy immune system
  • Lowering your risk of heart disease
  • Mental health

Choose your bedtime and your children’s bedtimes according to how much sleep is recommended by age. It takes the guesswork out of deciding when to go to sleep and wake up and how many hours to allocate to sleep each day.

Our sleep needs change through the ages. Are you getting enough sleep for your age?