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Sleep—and the fact that many Americans are not getting enough of it—is in the news a lot these days. We may intuitively know how important it is to get enough sleep, but a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes it more explicit. In their report, the CDC says that “Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic” and points out that sleep insufficiency has been linked to accidents, cognitive problems, memory loss, and lack of focus. People suffering from sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, depression, cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.

If all of this happens because of insufficient sleep, what is sufficient sleep?

How much sleep is enough? This is a question that has been addressed in the past with general, sometimes over-broad guidelines that suggested that adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, teens need 9 to 10 hours per night, and young children need at least 10 hours per night.

But these guidelines have recently been revised in favor of more specific recommendations for specific age ranges. The new recommendations come from the non-profit National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in a report published February 2, 2015 in the journal Sleep Health. This report is based on a comprehensive review and analysis of over 300 published studies on sleep and health that was conducted by a panel of 18 sleep experts from the NSF and other medical association. Chairman of the NSF Board Charles Czeisler said about the study: “This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance, and safety.”

The updated guidelines break up the previous categories for both children and adults into more precise age ranges. They also expand the recommendations themselves by adding to the existing categories of “Recommended” and “Not Recommended” a new category, “May Be Appropriate for Some Individuals”. An overview of the “Recommended” range is provided below:

  • Newborns (0-3 mo): Range was narrowed to 14-17 hours (previously 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 mo): Range widened to 12-15 hours (previously 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 yr): Range widened to 11-14 hours (previously 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5 yr): Range widened to 10-13 hours (previously 11-13)
  • School Age (6-13 yr): Range widened to 9-11 hours (previously 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Range widened to 8-10 hours (previously 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

 

The full set of NSF guidelines, including the ranges for all three categories, is shown below. They provide a useful starting point when discussing your family’s sleep needs with your doctor.

Age Recommended May Be Appropriate Not Recommended
Newborns (0-3 mo) 14-17 hours 11-13 hours
18-19 hours
Less than 11 hours
More than 19 hours
Infants (4-11 mo) 12-15 hours 10-11 hours
16-18 hours
Less than 10 hours
More than 18 hours
Toddlers (1-2 yr) 11-14 hours 9-10 hours
15-16 hours
Less than 9 hours
More than 16 hours
Preschool (3-5 yr) 10-13 hours 8-9 hours
14 hours
Less than 8 hours
More than 14 hours
School Age (6-13 yr) 9-11 hours 7-8 hours
12 hours
Less than 7 hours
More than 12 hours
Teenagers (14-17 yr) 8-10 hours 7 hours
11 hours
Less than 7 hours
More than 11 hours
Young Adults (18-25 yr) 7-9 hours 6 hours
10-11 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 11 hours
Adults (26-64 yr) 7-9 hours 6 hours
10 hours
Less than 6 hours
More than 10 hours
Older Adults ( 65 yr) 7-8 hours 5-6 hours
9 hours
Less than 5 hours
More than 9 hours

 

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