Sleep plays an important role in your mental and physical health. Sleeping allows your body to rest and your brain to recharge after each day. The number of hours of sleep you need depends on your age and can also vary from person to person, even within a particular age group.
Infants and Children
According to the Mayo Clinic, infants often sleep for up to 16 hours each day. Preschoolers should get about 11 hours of sleep each night, and children under the age of 13 should get about 10 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers should get nine hours of sleep a night. Kids Health from Nemours notes that getting enough sleep is critical for children because lack of sleep may affect their growth rate. The Cleveland Clinic adds that it can also interfere with their cognitive function, which can lead to learning disabilities.
According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that adults should get at least seven and a half hours of sleep a night and not much more than eight hours a night. Though older adults might sleep more lightly than they did as younger adults, this change does not mean that they need less sleep. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states that adults who sleep about seven hours a night have lower mortality rates than those who sleep much more or much less.
Too Much Sleep
Too much sleep can be harmful, as well as too little sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, oversleeping on a regular basis can lead to depression, weight gain and a variety of other health problems.
Benefits of Healthy Sleep
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who consistently get enough sleep have a stronger immune system and are less likely to get sick if exposed to a virus. When you sleep, your body produces proteins called cytokines. These proteins help fight infections, so if you have higher levels, you are better able to fight infections. You may avoid getting sick altogether, or if you do get sick, you can recover more quickly. You will also have more mental and physical energy and a better memory.
Sleep quality matters just as much as sleep duration. Sleep apnea, waking up frequently and other sleep problems might prevent you from sleeping deeply enough and reaping the benefits of healthy sleep. If you cannot fall asleep within 15 or 20 minutes or if you wake up in the night and cannot fall back to sleep within that time, you should leave the room and do something relaxing, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Only try to fall asleep when you feel tired enough. Avoiding daytime naps and performing regular daily exercise can also help you sleep more deeply.
MayoClinic.com: How Many Hours of Sleep Are Enough?
MayoClinic.com: Lack of Sleep---Can It Make You Sick?
Cleveland Clinic: What You Need to Know About Sleep
Kids Health from Nemours: What Sleep Is and Why All Kids Need It