How much sleep do you really need?

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 How do our sleep needs change with age?

It is well known that as children get older they need less sleep. Different people have different sleep needs. The advice in the table below is only a guide. You can make a good guess if a person is sleeping enough at night - observe how they act and function during the day.

Age Recommended May be Appropriate Not Recommended
Newborns
0-3 months
14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours
18 to 19 hours
Less than 11 hours
More than 19 hours
Infants
4-11 months
"12 to 15 hours " 10 to 11 hours
16 to 18 hours
Less than 10 hours
More than 18 hours
Toddlers
1-2 years
11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours
15 to 16 hours
Less than 9 hours
More than 16 hours
Preschoolers
3-5 years
10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours
14 hours
Less than 8 hours
More than 14 hours
School-aged Children
6-13 years
9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours
12 hours
Less than 7 hours
More than 12 hours
Teenagers
14-17 years
8 to 10 hours 7 hours
11 hours
Less than 7 hours
More than 11 hours
Young Adults
18-25 years
7 to 9 hours 6 hours
10 to 11 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 11 hours
Adults 26-64 years 7 to 9 hours 6 hours
10 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 10 hours
Older Adults
≥ 65 years
7 to 8 hours 5-6 hours
9 hours
Less than 5 hours
More than 9 hours

The above sleep duration recommendations are based on a report of an expert panel convened by the US based National Sleep Foundation and published in 2015 in their journal Sleep Health. 

How does napping change with age?

From birth to two months of age, the length of one period of sleep can be from 30 minutes to 3 - 4 hours. This is throughout the day and night. Babies fed from the bottle tend to sleep for longer at a time than breast-fed babies (3-4 hours versus 2-3 hours). See also Tips to Help Babies Sleep Better.

From 2 months onwards babies start to sleep for longer at a time. This is especially so at night between 12 midnight and 5am. The reason for this is that they start to develop their internal day-night (circadian) rhythm that favours sleep at night and being more awake during the day.

By 6 months of age, babies can get 5 – 8 hours of sleep at night. However 25-50% of 6 month olds still wake up at night. There are things that can be done to counteract this including ensuring that they learn to go to sleep in their cot by themselves at the start of the night. Then they are more able to self-soothe themselves back to sleep after waking up during the night.

From 2 months to 12 months, the number of daytime naps goes down from 3 - 4 naps to two naps. Morning naps usually stop between 12 and 18 months of age. Always give a chance for an afternoon nap after lunch and before 4pm. Daytime naps become less common from about 2 or 3 years onwards.

Consistent daytime naps after 5 years of age are not normal. The child might not be getting enough sleep at night. This may be due to poor sleep routines, sleep problems or sleep disorders. It may need to be followed up with a Sleep Specialist. See also Behavioural Sleep Problems in Children and/or Sleep Disorders in Children.

Why do teenagers want to stay up later?

In this age group, there is a change in the timing of sleep. It is natural for them to want to go to bed later at night and to sleep in. However this needs to be within reason and teenagers often need to be taught good sleep habits. They need to know that they won't function as well during the day if they miss sleep and fail to catch up on it. See also Teenage Sleep.

Adult Sleep

Sleep requirements stabilize in early adult life, around the age of 20. Individuals vary in their sleep needs but most adults require between 7 and 9 hours a night to feel properly refreshed and function at their best the next day. Many try to get away with less sleep. There are some who are genuine short sleepers while other may require considerably more than the average requirement. The reasons for this individual variability in sleep requirement are not well understood.

Older adults spend more time in bed but unless a sleep problem has developed the requirement for sleep is similar to that in their younger adult life.

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For futher informationsee:

www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au or

www.sleepfoundation.org

 

 

 

Sleep Health Foundation
ABN: 91 138 737 854
Suite 114, 30 Campbell Street, Blacktown, NSW, 2148
T: (02) 8814 8655 F: (02) 9672 3884
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