How Long Should You Sleep?


A good night's sleep is vital to your productivity, mood and your health. Sleep deprivation is a growing problem as people continue to sacrifice sleep in order to meet the requirements of day to day life. Each individual's requirement for sleep will vary. For the average person the amount of daily sleep can be broken down into five categories.

Infants and toddlers

It is no surprise this age group requires the most hours of sleep on a daily basis. A newborn infant will require up to 16 hours of sleep per day. This requirement drops to approximately 13 hours per day from the age of 6 months up to 3 years. Once a child reaches age 3 the need for sleep drops about two hours per day until they reach age 6. From age 6 to 9 the average child needs 10 hours of sleep. This drops to 9 hours once they reach the age of 9.


This group of young people, age 13 to 21, still should attempt to get a minimum of 9 hours of sleep each day. While this amount of sleep is important to their physical development, this age group has great difficulties in getting the suggested amounts of sleep. School work, part-time jobs and social activities demand a great deal of time and often sleep is the last element to receive consideration.


The amount of sleep for adults can vary widely from one individual to the next. We all have different metabolisms and sleep cycles. On average, for an adult to be at her peak performance level and in good health, she needs to average between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. It should be noted that lost sleep is not easily made up. If you go several days with less sleep than your body requires you should not expect to recover that lost time with one good night's sleep.

Older Person

The required amount of sleep for older adults, persons over 60 years of age, is approximately the same as for those under 60. This age group will also require between 7 and 8 hours of sleep daily, however it may come in a different format. Older adults, will requiring similar amounts of sleep, do not necessarily need it to be in a single sleep cycle. As the body ages its needs for sleep change and a series of short naps combined with a 6-hour sleep cycle at night may be adequate for most people. Again, the needs of each individual can vary widely.

Special Categories

There are times in our lives when more sleep is required in order for our bodies to function properly. When we are ill, sleep is a great healer and helps the body fight off infection. During pregnancy a woman will generally require more sleep than would otherwise be normal. This need could range from a series of quick naps during the day to several more hours of sleep each night, or a combination of both. Too much sleep can also be harmful to your system. Excessive sleep cycles can be a symptom of depression and should not be overlooked. If you have concerns you should consult your physician.

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