Getting enough sleep is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease, strengthen your immune system and improve your mental health.
If you usually wake up feeling tired and often want to nap during the day, chances are you need more, better quality sleep. But how much is enough?
There are recommendations for how much sleep you should get based on your age. You can use this as a guide, but the exact number of hours will depend on factors like your lifestyle, genetics and general health.
How much sleep do you need?
The recommended hours for your age group can give you a rough idea of how long you should aim to sleep each night. But to determine what works best for you, try to experiment with different amounts of sleep.Consider how you feel after a good or bad night’s sleep. What are your mood and energy levels like? It may help to keep a sleep diary.To find the perfect amount of sleep, it can also help to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible, by:
- eating a balanced diet
- exercising regularly
- relaxing before bedtime (e.g. avoid using any electronics)
- making sure your bedroom is a calm, comfortable environment
- avoiding coffee and alcohol close to bedtime
Once you find the right amount of sleep for you, set a bedtime so you go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on weekends.If you are suffering from sleep deprivation it can take a while to feel more rested as you may have to recover from a sleep debt.
If you have not been getting enough sleep for a long time, you may have a sleep debt.
To repay your sleep debt, you need to sleep for as many hours as you have lost. But it is not a good idea to pay it all back at once - indulging in a lie in over the weekend could ruin your sleep schedule for the rest of the week, leading to poorer quality sleep.
It is best to repay your sleep debt slowly. This can take several weeks, but will help you to develop healthier habits that will produce better results. Make small changes, like going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night during the week.
Alternatively, try going to bed an hour or two earlier on the weekend and allow yourself to wake up naturally. You may sleep more hours than you think you need on the first night, but over time the hours will decrease to a normal level.
Aim to make these changes, and lead a healthy lifestyle to give yourself the best chance of sleeping well.
Sleep guidelines for each age group
- Newborns (0-3 months) - 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months) - 12-15 hours every day
- 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