Not only does the amount of sleep we need depend on our personal circumstances, it changes throughout our lives as we get older. For instance, babies usually need to sleep much more than teenagers and adults. Even though there are no set amounts, here are some guidelines for the approximate hours of sleep different age groups generally require.
How much sleep do babies need?
For the most part, newborn babies spend more time sleeping than they spend awake. As their body clocks settle, each baby will naturally develop their own individual sleeping and waking pattern. This means some babies will fall asleep for longer periods whilst others will wake up after shorter intervals. Parents can expect most babies to sleep between 8 and 18 hours in a 24 hour period. After their first birthday, the upper limit often decreases to a total of around 12 to 15 hours.
How much sleep do toddlers need?
Like babies, younger children’s total daily sleep can vary significantly. The majority of two-year-olds tend to have one or two naps in the daytime followed by roughly 12 hours of sleep at night. Up to the age of four, young children will tend to sleep from 8 to around 14 each night. However, some may still need to have a nap during the day if they are not getting enough sleep. Signs to look out for include irritability, constantly needing stimulation and poor concentration.
How much sleep do children need?
Research has found that in order for children to grow and develop, getting adequate night time sleep is just as important as exercise and healthy nutrition. Sleep-deprived children may be moody, tired throughout the day and find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. By the time they reach the age of four, most children no longer need daytime naps. Aiming for 9 to 11 hours a night is usually sufficient for most children between the ages of 4 and 12.
How much sleep do teenagers need?
Even though they need at least 8 hours of good quality sleep on school nights, social pressures and physical changes mean most teen suffer from a lack of sleep. Constant distractions like mobile phones, games consoles and computers can also contribute. As teenagers have a reputation for not getting enough sleep, encouraging them to take up good sleeping habits now means they are more likely to stick to them as they mature into adults.
How much sleep do adults need?
Although there is no specific number, most adults usually need around eight hours of sleep to function properly. However, quality is more important than quantity and failing to get a good night’s sleep can have a considerable effect on your health. Lack of sleep puts you at risk of developing serious medical conditions as well as impacting your body, emotions and behaviour. As we advance in years we tend to get less deep sleep and sleep more lightly, with sleeping disorders like insomnia particularly common in elderly people.