How Much Sleep Do You Need?

As humans we spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping, and it’s a vital indicator of a person’s health and well-being. So are you getting the right amount of sleep? Recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation can help answer that question. The foundation convened a panel of 18 experts to systematically review the world’s scientific literature on sleep time and its relationship to health, performance, and safety across the lifespan.

In the resulting guidelines, which were published in Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, the panel revised the recommended sleep durations for all child and adolescent age groups—in most cases widening the range of hours considered appropriate. (An exception is newborns, whose healthy sleep range was narrowed to 14–17 hours each day. Previously it was 12–18 hours.)

The panel also added two new age groups: young adults (ages 18 to 25) and older adults (age 65 and up), whereas previous guidelines lumped all adults 18 and older into a single group. And the panel added a new range, “May Be Appropriate,” to account for individual variability in sleep needs within each age group. For example, the recommended sleep time for older adults is 7 to 8 hours; however, as little as 5 hours or as much as 9 hours may be fine for some people.

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