6, 8, or 10 hours? How much sleep should you be getting every night and what do you do when suspect you might have a sleep disorder? We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep and the amount and quality of sleep we get directly impacts our overall health and well-being. Though research cannot point to an exact amount of sleep people need, the National Sleep Foundation brought together eighteen of the leading scientists and researchers to form an expert panel to review over 300 scientific publications to determine windows for how much sleep is appropriate.
A summary of their recommendations includes:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours/day
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
If you aren’t getting enough sleep you may notice a decrease in your ability to concentrate, a lack of productivity, and overall groggy feeling. In fact, not getting enough sleep can have an impact similar to that of alcohol intoxication. Sleep deficiency can also be linked to many chronic health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression.
To assess the amount of sleep appropriate for you, start by seeing how you respond to different amounts of sleep. If it is helpful, track your sleep habits and how you feel each day over a one or two week period. If you find yourself sleepy during the day when you should be awake and alert or suffer from snoring, leg cramps or tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, insomnia or other symptoms preventing you from sleeping well, consult your primary care provider. They may refer you to a sleep professional to help determine the underlying cause.