Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires embracing a variety of good daily habits, including:
- consuming plant-based foods
- performing moderate exercise
- enjoying adequate sleep
But is “adequate “sleep” the same throughout our lives? Have you ever asked yourself, “How much sleep do I need by age?”
If so, you’re not alone. This 2018 research review published in Nature and Science of Sleep referenced multiple studies in answering the same question.
Researchers from the University of Ontario and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute proposed that daily sleep should receive the same attention as nutrition and exercise.
Most of the studies they reviewed arrived at similar recommendations. Anyone who’s wondered, “How much sleep do I need by age?” will find an answer in the study’s Table 1.
It lists the US National Sleep Foundation’s guidance:
Lack of adequate sleep can have serious physical and mental consequences.
- 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
- Children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
- Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
- Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
- Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
- Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours
They found that getting less than the recommended amount of sleep contributes to several health issues, including:
- type 2 diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- all-cause mortality
Short-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
However, we don’t have to wait for the onset of these risk factors and diseases. Some effects of insufficient sleep are immediate.
A University of Arizona study monitored the sleep of 300 men and women aged 21 to 70. It found that those who “slept less soundly” had higher blood pressure throughout the night and into the next day!
Of course, staying awake all night can have dire consequences. In a more extensive study, Michigan State University found sleep deprivation led to increases in multiple errors.
Have you ever been reading a book while tired and lost your place? The study’s sleep-deprived participants experienced double the “place-keeping errors” the following day.
They also experienced three times the number of lapses in attention. The MSU researchers concluded that anyone skimping on sleep for just one night needs to exercise caution in “absolutely everything they do” the following day.
Making costly errors after not getting enough sleep can have “tragic consequences” especially for drivers.
Another study found drivers operating a vehicle on less than four hours of sleep were over ten times more likely to get in an accident. Even drivers who simply got less than their recommended hours had a higher risk of accidents.
Lack of Sleep Impacts on Children and Teens
Massachusetts General Hospital researchers chose 1046 participants for a study before they were even born. They checked the amount of sleep the babies were getting at multiple stages through their early years.
When the children reached 7, the researchers assessed the differences between those who had or hadn’t received adequate sleep through their early childhood. The ones sleeping the least experienced attention deficits, a lack of emotional control, and struggles with peer relationships.
In a study of 799 children aged 6 to 12 years old, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and found that those who slept the fewest hours experienced more mental health disorders,
- psychiatric difficulties later in life
Studies like this reveal that getting inadequate sleep as children can negatively impact our health as we age.
A British study of 4,790 teenagers compared those getting at least the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep with those who were getting about 30 minutes less than recommended.
The teens sleeping an average of 7 hours and 25 minutes were at a higher risk of a depression or anxiety diagnosis later in life.
“How Much Sleep Do I Need By Age?”
For each of us and our families, this is a serious question.
Strong evidence indicates that getting the recommended amount of sleep for our age is essential for short- and long-term health benefits.
And on a positive note, at least one study has shown that getting enough sleep is as beneficial for your health and happiness as winning the lottery!