The secret to a great night's sleep

How much sleep do you really need?

Some of us feel well-rested after a solid eight hours of sleep and for others, closer to nine feels best. How much sleep we prefer to get is highly subjective, but how much we actually need can be explained by new research from the National Sleep Foundation. 

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A panel of six sleep experts and 12 other medical experts from organisations including the American Academy of Paediatrics and the Society for Research in Human Development, conducted a formal literature review focusing on the body of research surrounding sleep duration in healthy human subjects. From the 312 articles reviewed, the experts were able to fine-tune existing sleep duration recommendations as detailed below:

Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (range narrowed from 12-18)

Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (range widened from 14-15)

Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (range widened from 12-14)

Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (range widened from 11-13)

School-Age Children (6-13): 9-11 hours (range widened from 10-11)

Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (range widened from 8.5-9.5)

Young Adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)

Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours (no change)

Older Adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

"This is the first time that any professional organisation has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety," Charles A. Czeisler, professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation.

"If you're currently getting enough sleep and don't feel too tired when you wake up, keep to your usual sleep routine. If you're meeting your age group's recommended range but waking up groggy and feeling sluggish throughout the day, it could be a warning sign of various sleep conditions or a less-than-ideal sleep environment." said Dr Hirshkowitz, chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council. 

If you're not sure what is the best amount of sleep for you it can help to do a little home experiment. Start with the midpoint of the sleep duration range for your age group. Note you how feel when you wake up, how you feel during the day and how you feel as you're winding down in the evening and then adjust your time in bed accordingly. 

For tips on how to create the optimum sleep environment and how to get into a relaxing wind down routine before bed, visit our Sleep Toolkit created by our resident sleep expert Dr Nerina. 



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