How Many Hours of Sleep Do We Need?

70
Young woman sleeping on bed in bedroom

Sleep is important for our health and well-being. It helps us rest, relax, recover from the day, and prepare for tomorrow. When we don’t get enough sleep, it can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health.

The amount of sleep you need depends on your age, gender, lifestyle, and other factors. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between 18 and 64 years old should get seven or more hours of sleep each night. But how many hours of sleep are “enough”?

AgeHours of sleep needed per night
Newborns14-17 hours
Infants12-16 hours
Toddlers11-14 hours
Ages 3-510-13 hours
Ages 6-129-12 hours
Ages 13-188-10 hours
Adults7-9 hours
Seniors7-8 hours

What Is Sleep?

Your body goes through two types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. These two stages of sleep help regulate hormones, energy levels, temperature, heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, and brain activity.

During REM sleep, which happens about every 90 minutes during the night, your brain waves slow down and your muscles become paralyzed. In NREM sleep, which occurs throughout the night, your brain waves are slower than in REM sleep. You may feel like you’re awake when you first wake up, but as time passes, you’ll gradually begin to feel sleepy again.

What Is Deep Sleep? And How Much Do You Need?

Deep sleep is also known as stage 3 sleep, and it usually lasts for 20 to 30 minutes. During deep sleep, your brain waves enter the delta frequency range, which indicates that your mind is deeply relaxed. This type of sleep is associated with high levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that encourages feelings of happiness, contentment, and joy. Serotonin levels drop during shallow sleep, which typically lasts less than five minutes.

In addition to helping you relax, deep sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation. That means that while you’re sleeping, your brain stores memories that were learned earlier in the day. For example, if you learn something new today, you might remember it better tomorrow because your brain has had time to process the information.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation?

If you don’t get enough sleep, you may experience one or more symptoms. The most common signs include:

• Fatigue

• Headaches

• Irritability

• Memory problems

• Reduced ability to concentrate

• Poor decision-making skills

• Trouble falling asleep

• Tiredness upon waking up

Sleep deprivation can lead to serious medical conditions, including depression, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. It can also increase your risk of accidents, injuries, and traffic violations.

Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

• Don’t drink alcohol right before going to bed. Alcohol slows down the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness.

• Try not eating anything after 10 p.m. If you eat late into the evening, try having an early dinner instead. Eating late makes you hungry later in the night.

• Use a clock or alarm to tell you when it’s time to go to bed.

• Wear comfortable clothes so you won’t be bothered by any noises outside.

• Exercise regularly. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygenation, which improves sleep quality.

• Take a warm bath or shower before bedtime. Warm baths relax muscles and reduce tension.

• Read something relaxing before you go to bed. Reading about topics unrelated to work or school will help you unwind.

• Create a dark, quiet room where you’ll be able to relax. Avoid using electronics such as computers, TVs, and smartphones in the bedroom. They emit blue light, which disrupts the production of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep.

• Keep your room cool. A cool temperature reduces stress levels and keeps you alert.

• Practice good breathing techniques to promote relaxation. Deep breathing exercises help you slow down and calm yourself.

• Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and causes insomnia if consumed too close to bedtime.

Final Thoughts

The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person. But generally speaking, adults require between six and eight hours per night. In conclusion, there’s no “right” number of hours of sleep you should have each night. Your goal should be to find out what works best for your lifestyle and schedule.

Author Profile

Lake Oconee Health produces engaging content in order to be a relevant health and wellness resource for our readers across the region.