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how much sleep do you need

How much sleep do you really need?

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We all know sleep is essential to our wellbeing. But how much sleep is recommended? And what can you do to increase the amount of sleep you get?

Find out how many hours of sleep you need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new day.

We all know the benefits of a good night’s sleep, but with increasingly busy lives featuring jam- packed work schedules and family commitments, as well as the ever-encroaching demands of technology, are you actually getting enough sleep? And just how much is enough, anyway? Here’s what you need to know.

Sleep recommendations for different life stages

First things first, here’s what official guidelines recommend in terms of how many hours per day of sleep is needed for different age groups.

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range is 14-17 hours each day
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range is 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range is 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range is 10-13 hours
  • School-age children (6-13): Sleep range is 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range is 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours

  • Now that you’re clear on the ideal amount of sleep you need depending on your age and life stage, it’s important to bear a few things in mind.

  • Most of us aren’t very good at judging or knowing how many hours sleep we get each night, with research showing that even people living with a sleep disorder like insomnia tend to overestimate how long it takes them to fall asleep and underestimate the total time they spend sleeping. The takeaway? Even when you feel like you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, you’ve probably slept more than you think.
  • It’s important not to spend ‘a few more hours’ in bed, in the hope of getting more sleep if you feel like you need it. Staying in bed for longer than you need can eventually lead to fragmented sleep.
  • Be aware that if you regularly sleep more than the recommended guidelines, yet you still wake up feeling unrefreshed, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

  • How to tell if you’re getting enough sleep

    As you’ve just read, underestimating how many hours we spend asleep at night is common. So how can you tell if you really are – or aren’t – getting enough shut-eye?

    Before you respond with ‘use a sleep tracker’, a word of caution. On top of research that shows devices can actually contribute to problems because of the pressure they can create to hit sleep targets, accuracy is another problem. Research suggests sleep trackers are only accurate 78 per cent of the time at identifying ‘sleep’ over ‘wakefulness’, and only 38 per cent of the time at accurately gauging how long it takes people to fall asleep.

    Having the occasional bout of what’s called ‘sleep disturbance’, where you do have difficulty falling and staying asleep, isn’t uncommon, but regardless, many people continue to function well the day after. The difference is when your sleep is disrupted and you regularly start noticing symptoms of sleep deprivation during the day. Things to look out for include:

  • Yawning frequently and constantly during the day
  • Dozing off when you’re not active, for example when you’re watching TV
  • Feeling groggy when you wake up and continuing to feel that way throughout the day
  • A lack of concentration and changes in your mood

  • How to get a good night’s sleep

    If you recognise any of the sleep-deprivation symptoms listed above and you feel like you’re not getting enough sleep each night, the good news is there are many things you can try.

    For starters, cultivating good sleep hygiene is key. In a nutshell, this is all about promoting healthy bedtime behaviours and creating an ideal environment for sleep, which involves everything from reducing noise and light to maintaining a regular bed and wake time.

    You may also like to try mindfulness meditation, which research shows can deliver improvements in sleep quality and daytime sleepiness without a significant time investment. Taking a supplement that's designed to support healthy sleep may also help, and there are a variety of different supplements to choose from depending on whether you’re waking up feeling tired, find falling asleep difficult, or if your sleep regularly feels restless. Learn more about which one might work best for you, here.