Like many others, you probably grew up thinking you need 8 hours of sleep a day. This is something drilled into our heads as children, but now that you’re older, is this still applicable?
With all of the grownup responsibilities you deal with on a daily basis, it seems you’re always lacking in sleep. Factors such as lifestyle, diet, light exposure and nighttime habits also affect how much sleep you get. If you use that snooze button a lot, find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, get sleepy at work or after heavy meals and need to take a nap to function for the rest of the day, you may be sleep deprived.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may suffer from a number of negative effects, such as fatigue, moodiness, difficulty in concentrating, a weakened immune system and even premature skin aging, among others.
So how many hours of sleep should you really be getting? And how do you go about getting those? Here’s the lowdown on sleep times and some tips to getting a good night’s sleep.
Age is a determining factor
How much sleep you need depends on your age. You may not need as much sleep as a developing infant, for example.
The National Sleep Foundation has published their recommendations for sleep duration according to age group. Here’s a summary of the recommended sleep ranges (per day):
- 0-3 months old (newborn babies): 14-17 hours
- 4-11 months old (infants): 12-15 hours
- 1-2 years old (toddler)s: 11-14 hours
- 3-5 years old (preschoolers): 10-13 hours
- 6-13 years old (school-age children): 9-11 hours
- 14-17 years old (teenagers): 8-10 hours
- 18-25 years old (younger adults): 7-9 hours
- 26-64 years old (adults): 7-9 hours
- Older adults 65 years old and above: 7-8 hours
Individual needs should also be considered
The reason why there is no set number of hours for each age group is that another factor comes into play: a person’s individual needs. Some adults may feel well-rested after seven hours of sleep, while others don’t “function” properly unless they get nine hours of deep slumber. How you respond to different hours of sleep should also be something to consider.
Tips to getting a good night’s sleep
You may not be getting as much sleep as you need because of inconsistency in the time you sleep, using an uncomfortable mattress and pillows, using bright lights at night, and other factors. To help you get the most of your allotted time for sleep, do the following:
- Set a sleep schedule and stick to it every day, weekends included.
- Exercise regularly – but not too close to the time you’re supposed to be asleep.
- Use a comfortable mattress with the right level of firmness and support.
- Make your bedroom environment conducive for sleeping.
- Practice a bedtime ritual that relaxes and soothes you.
- Turn off light sources and electronics that emit bright light.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Be mindful of what you eat and drink – avoid stuff you know will give you a hard time trying to sleep, like caffeine and alcohol.