How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?

Answer 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
Infants 4 months to 12 months 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours, including naps
1 to 2 years 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours, including naps
3 to 5 years 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours, including naps
6 to 12 years 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
13 to 18 years 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
Adults 7 or more hours a night

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

  • 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.
  • Previous sleep deprivation. If you're sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.
  • Pregnancy. Changes in hormone levels and physical discomfort can result in poor sleep quality.
  • 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, take longer to start sleeping and sleep for shorter time spans than do younger adults. Older adults also tend to wake up multiple times during the night.

For kids, getting the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis is linked with better health, including improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, the ability to control emotions, quality of life, and mental and physical health.

For adults, getting less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis has been linked with poor health, including weight gain, having a body mass index of 30 or higher, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression.

If you're concerned about the amount of sleep you or your child is getting, talk to your doctor or your child's doctor.

With

Eric J. Olson, M.D.

May 15, 2021