While some people think eight hours is a standard unit of time that one should be sleeping each night, many of us struggle to get that much, and if we don’t get more, there are feelings of sleep deprivation the next day. There is such a thing as sleep debt. You may miss a few hours here and there, and it can really take a toll on you physically and mentally. The hours you miss can add up, and sometimes it’s impossible to “catch up on sleep.” Seeing as humans sleep for almost a third of their entire life, the question itself of how much sleep is necessary is often revisited when it can be linked to prolonging your lifespan. Many things interfere with a good night’s sleep, so what factors in for one individual’s lifestyle may not factor in for another. The actual amount of sleep you need depends on your age and your lifestyle.
The Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep:
Newborns: 14-17 hours per day
Infants: 12-15 hours per day
Toddlers: 11-14 hours per day
3-5 years old: 10-13 hours per day (active up to 14 hours)
6-13 years old: 9-11 hours per day (active up to 12 hours)
14-17 years old: 8-10 hours per day (active up to 11 hours)
18-25 years old: 7-9 hours per day (active up to 11 hours)
26-64 years old: 7-9 hours per day (active up to 10 hours)
65+ years old: 7-8 hours per day (active up to 9 hours)
Depending on your lifestyle factors and activity levels, the range in which is necessary for the age group typically increases by an hour. Ranges are usually more appropriate, and there is no set time that one should sleep each night. It is normal that the amount of time it takes you to feel rested differs from day to day. While one relatively sedentary day you may do fine on seven hours of sleep, the next busy day you may find yourself needing almost nine or ten. Try not to deprive yourself of any additional hours you feel you need, because you will start to work into a sleep debt.
Making sleep a priority
Making sleep a priority in your day will focus the attention it deserves onto the time you’ll spend preparing for bed. Sleep is just as an important activity as making dinner or going to work is. It should go on your list of priorities, and crossing it off every night can be fulfilling. You can also aid this routine by making sure you don’t put sleep off to do other tasks that aren’t priorities, like watching television. Enjoying a pre-sleep routine and ensuring that you will get a full, rested night’s sleep will benefit you night after night. Perhaps it’s time to make the dog or cat sleep in their own bed so you can have room to stretch out and relax, and not be disturbed. Make sure your room is equipped with everything you need to be well rested in the morning, including black out curtains, a white noise machine or fan, and a cool temperature. Once you are able to adapt these changes into your daily sleep schedule, it will become habit and your body and brain will thank you.