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How Much Sleep is Healthy for Children, Teens, and Adults?

how much sleep is healthy for a family sticking feet out from under the blanket

Have you ever wondered if you or someone you know is sleeping too much or too little? Each of us has an individual biological clock that tells us when to rest and how much sleep is enough, but that clock isn't always correct. We've all known someone unbelievably chipper in the morning which rises with the sun even if they only put their head on the pillow three hours previous, just as we've likely known someone who can't seem to wake up in the morning no matter how long they sleep. You may be one of these people.

Adults and teens often get into the unhealthy cycle of caffeinating and short-sleeping to get a few more productive hours out of each day and, unfortunately, children also pick up this habit from their parents and older siblings. On the flip-side, many people don't know how to become adequately rested and tend to over-sleep on days where this is possible, waking up tired and groggy instead of refreshed. So are you getting too much or too little sleep? What about your children, teens, friends, and relatives? According to new data from the National Sleep Foundation, each age group has an ideal period of sleep, an outlying range of acceptability, and beyond that, your sleep schedule might be harming your health.

How Much Sleep is Healthy By Age?

From the day we are born to the time we reach full adulthood, each age group has different health needs in regards to sleep. Infants will tend to sleep the most while, according to the data, older adults are the most likely to rest the least and still be healthy. Whether you are worried about yourself or a loved one or are merely curious about healthy sleep, let's take a look at the data.

Newborn Sleep: Up to 3 Months Old

14 to 17 Hours Throughout the Day

 Newborns are not quite fully-cooked when they are born and need a lot of rest to continue to grow and develop. It is why it always seems like babies are either sleeping or crying. They sleep most of the day and may only wake when they need food, changing, or hugs. Healthy newborn sleep is between fourteen and seventeen hours a day on average. Of course, because each person is unique, your baby may still be healthy within a range of eleven to nineteen hours a day. They will take their sleep time throughout the day in a sequence of naps with, possibly, one more extended sleep session during the night.

Infant Sleep: 4 to 12 Months Old

12 to 15 Hours Throughout the Day 

Infants older than four months old are likely getting the hang of their limbs and starting to play and interact more during the day. They may sleep longer at night, adopting their parent's schedule if possible, but will still nap regularly throughout the day. Healthy infant sleep is generally between twelve and fifteen hours a day but can range to as little as ten hours or as much as eighteen depending on the infant. You should expect this time to shorten as they get older.

Toddler Sleep: 1 to 2 Years Old

11 to 14 Hours a Day (Including Naps) 

When your child is fully mobile, they will also very noticeably need less sleep than they used to. Toddlers are notorious for rising with the sun and demanding that others do as well, but they also tend to take at least one nap in the afternoon. You could say that your toddler doesn't 'charge up' on sleep as well as adults and needs a recharge halfway through their day. They will tend to sleep a total of eleven to fourteen hours in a day, but not all of it at night. The good outlier numbers are nine to sixteen hours.

Preschooler Sleep: 3 to 5 Years Old

10 to 13 Hours a Day (Including Naps)

Preschoolers between three and five years old are more energetic, thoughtful, and they tend to nap less as they get older. Depending on the preschooler, they may sleep ten to thirteen hours at night or split it up between a briefer nighttime sleep and an afternoon nap. They may also sleep as little as eight or as much as fourteen hours based on individual needs.

School-Age Child Sleep: 6 to 13 Years Old

Nine to 11 Hours Each Night

School-age children start to approach the normal adult range of sleep, but it is essential that they get however much they need to grow and remain healthy. Children typically need between nine and eleven hours of sleep. Don't worry if your child wakes up fully energized after seven hours in bed or if they occasionally sleep themselves out at around twelve hours of sleep. Most school-age children do not nap but can benefit from a nap after a stressful or emotional day.

Teenager Sleep: 14 to 17 Years Old

Eight to 10 Hours Each Night

Teenagers are notorious for sleeping a great deal, often as a result of growth spurts and hormone surges. The amount of sleep a teenager needs will vary depending on the person and what their body is up to at the time. The average amount of healthy sleep needed by teens is between eight and 10 hours, which is why very early school start times can be a problem. Their healthy outlier range tends to be between seven and eleven hours, though the occasional binge-sleep is perfectly normal.

Young Adult Sleep: 18 to 25 Years Old

Seven to Nine Hours Each Night

As teenagers finish growing and they become young adults, their need for sleep decreases slightly to the standard adult range. Young adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to remain healthy though some demand as little as six or as many as eleven hours depending on their circadian rhythm. Unfortunately, this is also the age group that is most well-known for either over or under sleeping.

Adult Sleep: 26 to 64 Years Old

Seven to Nine Hours Each Night

Full adults over the age of 25 have generally gotten their lives and preferred schedule locked down. Those in tune with their bodies may know exactly how much sleep they need, though many short-sleep themselves regularly with caffeine and work to do. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep with an outlier range of six to ten hours. However, if you're getting less than six (and many of us are), you're putting your long-term health at risk.

Senior Sleep: 65 Years and Older

Seven to Eight Hours Each Night (Plus Naps)

Finally, around the time you're ready to retire, your sleep needs shift once again. But not in the direction most people would expect. Seniors tend to need less sleep because their bodies burn less energy daily. It is why seniors are known to be morning people. A typical senior needs between seven and eight hours of sleep but it is not unusual or unhealthy to sleep anywhere between five and nine hours. Naps are usually a pleasant bonus.

Are you or your loved ones getting enough sleep or sleeping too much? Now you can know for sure whether you're within the healthy range or if it's time for a change of schedule. For more helpful information about sleep and how to do it right, contact us today!