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Many parts of our lives are about balance — what food we eat each day, how many lazy days we “deserve,” how much screen time is appropriate, and how much sleep we get. We’re often searching to find the right balance in these situations. Factors like our physiological make up, lifestyle and our commitment toward these activities are factors in striking the right balance.
The most important word in queries about “how much is right” is the word “me”. The right amount of anything for you is going to be slightly different than the person next to you, and the person next to them, and so on. But with all things, there are guidelines to follow that keep us generally on the right track. This is true for diet, exercise, screen time, and especially sleep.
We’ll answer commonly asked questions about the right amount of sleep for adults, children, men, and women. You can then apply these guidelines in your life and dig deeper into what’s perfect for YOU.
How Many Hours Of Sleep Do Children Need?
Kids are classified as anyone from a newborn to a 17-year-old. The number of hours of sleep that kids need varies as they increase in age. This is largely due to their rapid mental and physical growth during their childhood years.
Mayo Clinic provides the following guidelines for different age groups of children:
What If My Child Doesn’t Get Enough Sleep?
It’s not an easy task to tell if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, because sleepy kids don’t have the same telltale signs as adults do. Adults are visibly exhausted, mentally drained, quieter, and not very physically active. However, overtiredness in children can display in overactivity and hyperness.
This sounds familiar, right? Sometimes if a child throws a fit or acts extra destructive, parents can attribute it to them missing a nap.
As children age, it’s important to prioritize sleep. Studies show that lack of sleep can be linked to a lack of alertness, poor school grades, and even difficulty maintaining blood sugar and weight in children.
How Many Hours Of Sleep Do Adults Need?
The American Sleep Association notes that with most scientific topics, there’s a bell curve to findings. It’s the same with sleep — there’s an average number (eight hours) that we all need and mostly get, but there’s variance on both ends of that curve. Sometimes we only get sixhours and other days we’ve slept for ten hours.
For adults, Mayo Clinic recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Mayo Clinic indicates there are other factors ato play when knowing how much sleep is right for you. For example:
- Pregnancy. Changes in the body can increase the need for sleep.
- Aging. As you get older, however, your sleeping patterns might change. Older adults tend to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans than do younger adults.
- Previous sleep deprivation. If you're sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.
- Sleep quality. If your sleep is frequently interrupted, you're not getting quality sleep. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity.
Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?
According to a research study by the Sleep Research Center at England’s Loughborough University, yes. There are a number of reasons, but the prevailing theory is that during the day, women’s brains work harder than men’s, on average.
A female’s brain is more optimized for analytical and intuitive thinking, resulting in more multitasking during the day. This increased momentum can require more energy throughout the day, meaning it takes longer to wind it down at nighttime.
But how much more sleep do women need than men? The same UK study showed that only 20 extra minutes on average is needed.
Why Is Quality Sleep Important?
What’s more important, sleep quantity or sleep quality? While we talked a lot about the number of hours, sleep quality is also important to assess when reflecting on your overall sleep health.
Ten hours of low-quality sleep are less effective than six hours of quality sleep. How can you judge a quality night’s sleep? Think about whether you were restless, if you woke up often, if you were interrupted by a phone ringing or a loud television. Those are all indications of a poor night’s sleep.
Improve sleep quantity and quality.
If you don’t think you or your children are getting the right amount of sleep, it’s important to start tracking it. A consistent lack of sleep could be related to a number of medical conditions, so if you’re concerned, talk with your doctor.If you’re sleeping plenty of hours, but fear you’re not getting quality sleep, assess your surroundings. If you aren’t sleeping comfortably, it could be time to replace your mattress. There’s no questioning the importance of sleep for our overall health and the fact that prioritizing it will benefit you in the long run.