How much sleep you need in a day depends primarily on your age. Moreover, the required sleeping hours vary from person to person.

Newborns and infants need to sleep more than children who again need to doze off more than grownups. Lack of it creates a sleep debt or a deficit, which has adverse effects.

The body, therefore, has to “repay” this debt by making up with more resting hours subsequently. Sleeping the required hours, therefore, is important.

How Much Should I Sleep?

There is no hard and fast rule as to how much sleep you require because it varies from person to person. While one may be comfortable with six hours of slumber, another person may require eight hours to function at the optimum.

Research now has found that genetics plays an important role in determining when and for how long a person should sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, as a young healthy adult, you require 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day to be at your best functionally. Athletes may be able to perform better if they go for 10 hours.

However, the sleep hours chart gives your sleeping hours requirement by age, which has been arrived at by a broad consensus.  

Sleep chart by age

The chart below shows the requirement of sleep every day or night as per the age of the individual.

Age Average hours of sleep per day
Newborns Up to 18 hours
Up to 12 months 14 to 18 hours
1 to 3 years 12 to 15 hours
3 to 5 years 11 to 13 hours
5 to 12 years 9 to 11 hours
13 to 19 years (Adolescents) 9 to 10 hours
Adults including older persons 7 to 8 hours

 Pregnant women need more sleep than other adults and may doze off for well over 8 hours. Though older people require about 8 hours, it is quite common to see them suffering from disorders such as insomnia. This could be due to various causes such as aging or medical problems associated with advanced age and medication.

Why get those required sleep hours?

Deprivation of sleep causes reduced energy levels, lack of concentration, a depressed mood, and reduced overall efficiency.

Besides the reduced efficiency at work or school, the individual is at great risk of developing health complications.

Patients with chronic insomnia suffer from psychological disturbances and can go into depression.

They are also at a bigger risk of suffering from diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

In the United States, more than 10% of the population finds it difficult to fall asleep.

According to the National Commission of Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) report, which was published in 1993, about 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders and an additional 20 to 30 million suffer from intermittent sleep problems.

How is sleep different for men and women?

Studies have also found that the way men and women sleep is different. Women spend more time in deep sleep that restores and boosts memory.
Sleeping time

In general, women sleep about 20 minutes more than men do every day. The reason given for this is that women spend more mental energy than men spend and are, therefore, mentally more fatigued.

Sleeping problems

Women are twice more prone to develop sleep disorders than men. About 15 percent of women suffer from these problems, against eight percent of men.

Tackling sleeping disorders

Researchers found that women were able to handle sleep deprivation days better, both physically and hormonally.

After the deprivation week, men showed higher levels of protein, which increases inflammation. All of this can increase the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Post sleep deprivation, women slept well. Men were unable to do this and were not able to get rid of the sleep deficit as women did.

Studies have shown that women tend to enjoy better quality and quantity of sleep, in spite of increased demands on their time due to work and family.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, about 78% of pregnant women experience insomnia. The causes include increased abdominal girth, back pain, mental apprehension of having a baby, frequent urination during the night, and hormonal changes. This phase of sleep deprivation is temporary and settles down after labor.

How sleep affects mortality?

According to the American Cancer Society, those who slept for about seven hours every night (6.5 to 7.5 hours) had the least mortality while those who slept for less than 6 hours and more than 8 hours suffered from a higher mortality rate.

Therefore, if you are able to sleep for 4 or 5 hours daily, you are increasing your sleep deficit, which will ultimately put you at a growing risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cognitive loss. You should, therefore, take corrective action and ensure you get your required sleep.

You can do this by exercising regularly, setting your everyday routine bed and wake times, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and improving your sleeping environment.

Sleeping for more than 8.5 hours every night increased the mortality rate by 15% while similarly, sleeping for less than 3.5 hours in women and 4.5 hours in men increased the mortality rate by 15%.

The use of sleeping pills is associated with an increased mortality rate.