Last Modified 26 January 2024  |  
First Added 29 July 2019

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

The quality of sleep we get directly determines the quality of our waking hours and our mental and physical wellbeing depends on us getting the sleep we need.

On average, we spend around a third of our lives asleep. In this time, while we rest, our bodies are busy seeing to biological maintenance, repairs and replenishing our energy stores to keep our bodies running in tip top condition. Meanwhile, our mind is also busy sorting out and storing the memories of the day.

1. So, how much sleep do I really need?

Sleep is restorative; without enough of it we just don’t function anywhere near our full potential. On average, most healthy adults need between seven and nine hours sleep a night, but in general the amount of sleep we need depends on the following;

•    Age
•    Gender
•    Health

How much sleep does a newborn (up to 12 months) need?
14 – 15 hours per day

How much sleep does a toddler (from 1 – 3 years old) need?
12 – 14 hours per night

How much sleep does a young child (from 3 – 6 years old) need?
10 – 12 hours per night

How much sleep does an older child (from 7 – 12 years old) need?
10 – 11 hours per night

How much sleep does a young adult (from 12 – 18 years old) need?
8 – 9 hours per night

How much sleep does an adult (from 18 – 65 years old) need?
7 – 9 hours per night

How much sleep does a 65+ year old need?
7 – 8 hours per night

2. What is a sleep cycle?

Whilst quantity is important, it’s the quality of sleep that really matters. Sleep cycles are at the heart of us feeling rested and rejuvenated the next day.

•    There are four stages of sleep in a cycle
•    Each cycle lasts approximately 1.5 hours
•    We need to go through all four stages of sleep to feel properly rested,
•    When we get a full, undisturbed night’s sleep, we go through these cycles five or six times

The stages of sleep… explained
The four stages of sleep begin with us first falling asleep and take us through to REM sleep, where we dream. These four stages make up one complete sleep cycle.

NREM (non-rapid eye movement) happens when we first fall asleep and identifies us getting progressively deeper into sleep.

NREM1 - The first stage of sleep when we fall asleep
NREM2 - The second stage of sleep where we are still lightly asleep
NREM3 - The third stage of sleep where we are deeply asleep and difficult to rouse
REM - The fourth stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement and is when we dream

3. How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?

Sleep requirements vary from person to person and the best way to work out if you’re getting enough sleep or not is to monitor how you feel throughout the day. If you feel fatigued, sluggish or need to catch up on sleep at the weekend, it’s probably because you’re not getting enough sleep. But experimenting and making simple changes to your lifestyle, understanding your sleep habits and your routines can drastically change how you feel and pave the way to a more restful, restorative and full night’s sleep.

4. How to get a better night’s sleep

There are lots of things you can consider when it comes to adjusting lifestyle habits to improve your sleep such as getting up at the same time every day, getting more light during the day and not napping. But there are also some physical things that can make a difference, such as whether your mattress is giving you the correct support so you don’t wake up feeling achy, whether your pillow is supporting you neck and shoulders, or if your bed linen is good quality and temperature regulating.

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