Contrary to popular belief, not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep. There isn’t a standard amount of time that applies to everyone. If you are asking – “what is the right amount of sleep I need in a day?” – the appropriate answer would be, “there isn’t one”. Because the duration and quality of your sleep depend on a lot of factors like age, sex, occupation, lifestyle, eating habits and so on.

However, many sleep experts have come to identify the general duration an individual may need depending on their age.

The Recommended Hours of Sleep by Age Group

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

It is important to note that these times are not set in stone and may vary from person to person.

Quality vs Quantity of Sleep

What you have to remember is our bodies require restfulness and relaxation, not long hours of sleep. Meaning the ‘quality’ of sleep is more important than the ‘quantity’ of sleep.  If you can keep your body (and your mind) in a certain state of relaxedness and loose throughout the day, naturally, your sleep duration will come down.

That said, the amount of sleep depends on the level of physical activity that you are performing. It is not wise to ‘fix’ the amount of sleep you need for each day. Our bodies have the ability to wake up by themselves once it is well rested (without an alarm). However, laziness to get out of bed is a completely different issue.

The Role of Genetic Makeup and Sleep Quality

The amount of you sleep you need can also be determined by your genetic makeup and sleep quality.

Some people have certain genetic mutations that affect how much time they need to sleep, what time is best for them to sleep and how sleep deprivation can affect them. For instance, researchers discovered that some people with one certain genetic mutation need 5 hours of sleep, whereas people without it need 8 hours or more.

If your sleep quality is below normal, the amount of sleep you get won’t lead to feeling rested. Alternately, if your sleep quality is high, you may feel rested with a little less sleep than usual.

Tips for Getting Better Sleep

If you are having trouble getting enough sleep, there are several things you can do to improve the quality and duration of your sleep. Some tips include:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Avoid using electronics in the bedroom, such as phones, laptops, and TVs.
  • Consider talking to a healthcare professional if you have ongoing sleep problems.

Keep a diary to track your daily activities, stress levels, sleep and wake timings, and sleep quality.  In a few weeks, you will be able to target what activities promote good sleep and how many hours of rest you need to make you feel energized.

Sleep timings vary from person to person. Pay attention to yourself and your body. How you feel during your day determines if you’re getting enough rest. You’ll know you’re sleeping enough with good quality if you’re waking up feeling energized. 

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