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The human body follows a natural circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle that repeats every 24 hours. While sleep schedules and sleep patterns vary between individuals, most people of the same age need similar amounts of sleep time in order to maintain good health. Understanding sleep can help you avoid sleep deprivation and get the right amount of rest.

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Why Is Sleep Important?

Maintaining healthy sleep habits can greatly impact a person's overall wellness. Among other things, good sleep health can promote mental health, cardiovascular wellness, alertness and wakefulness, strong cognition and memory retention, and a strengthened immune system. No matter how much sleep a person needs, getting a good night of sleep promotes overall health.

How Much Sleep Is Necessary for Each Age Group?

People of different ages have different sleep needs. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a recommended amount of sleep for healthy adults and children within each age range.

  • Infants: Newborn babies and infants need the most sleep of any age group. Newborns typically need 14 to 17 hours of sleep in a 24 hour cycle, while infants typically need 12 to 16 hours. This includes consistent napping.
  • Toddlers: Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Napping is also a key part of their sleep cycle.
  • Preschoolers: A preschool-aged child typically needs 10 to 13 hours of sleep, most of it at night but often supplemented by napping.
  • School age: School-age children (from 6 to 12) need 9 to 12 hours of sleep every day. This sometimes includes napping but often does not.
  • Teenagers: Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. Their natural circadian rhythms are not wired for early mornings, which means they have a tendency to stay up late and then sleep in late to get enough sleep.
  • Adults: Both young adults and middle-aged adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
  • Older adults: Between the ages of 61 and 64, adults should aim for a sleep duration of 7 to 9 hours per night.
  • Retirees: Adults age 65 and over typically need 7 to 8 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. As people age, their melatonin levels become less consistent, which may lead to a need for less sleep.

No matter how much sleep you ultimately need, aim for durations long enough to progress through a full sleep cycle from light sleep to slow-wave deep sleep to REM sleep.

Want to Learn More About Catching Those Elusive Zs?

Saw some of the best darn logs of your life with a MasterClass Annual Membership and exclusive instructional videos from Dr. Matthew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep and the founder-director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Between Matthew’s tips for optimal snoozing and info on discovering your body’s ideal rhythms, you’ll be sleeping more deeply in no time.

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