How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?

Answers from Eric J. Olson, M.D.

The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors — especially your age. While sleep needs vary significantly among individuals, consider these general guidelines for different age groups:

Age group Recommended amount of sleep
Newborns 14 to 17 hours a day
12 months About 10 hours at night, plus 4 hours of naps
2 years About 11 to 12 hours at night, plus a 1- to 2-hour afternoon nap
3 to 5 years 10 to 13 hours
6 to 13 years 9 to 11 hours
14 to 17 years 8 to 10 hours
Adults 7 to 9 hours

In addition to age, other factors can affect how many hours of sleep you need. For example:

  • Pregnancy. Changes in the body during early pregnancy can increase the need for sleep.
  • Aging. Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. As you get older, however, your sleeping patterns might change. Older adults tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans than do younger adults.
  • Previous sleep deprivation. If you're sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.
  • Sleep quality. If your sleep is frequently interrupted, you're not getting quality sleep. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity.

Some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep a night, but their performance is likely affected. Research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don't perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night.

With

Eric J. Olson, M.D.

April 06, 2016 See more Expert Answers