Prominent health organizations like the National Sleep Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
If only it were that simple.
While seven to nine hours of sleep might be the ideal, too many of us make do with just five or six hours a night, leaving us feeling tired during the day. In fact, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, just 56% of Americans said they get enough sleep, while 43% said they would feel much better with more nightly sleep.
Part of the reason Americans have such poor sleep hygiene? Old habits die hard, and many people start developing bad sleeping habits at a young age. By the time we grow up and start investing in our sleep schedules, either with adjustable beds, blackout curtains, or a gym membership, we’re already set in our ways.
So how much sleep should younger people get each night? This June the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released new guidelines addressing this exact issue. Not only will better sleep hygiene help the young and old alike feel more alert and focused during the day, but “insufficient sleep increases risks for obesity, diabetes, accidents, depression and in teens, self-harm including suicide attempts.”
How many hours of sleep are adequate?
- Infants from age four months to one year: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
- Children aged one to two years: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Children aged three to five years: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- Children aged six to 12 years: Nine to 12 hours
- Teens aged 13 to 18 years: Eight to 10 hours
In the same way that teens need more calories than adults, teens and children need more sleep because their bodies and brains are still developing. Yet as anyone who’s ever parented a teen knows all too well, it’s hard to get a teen to get 10 hours of sleep in a night.
While many adults have benefitted from things like rigorous sleep schedules or adjustable beds, teenagers have a hard time putting their phone away at the end of the night. Still, stressing the importance of an adequate amount of sleep could go a long way to preventing chronic sleep and wakefulness disorders later in life. These affect 50 to 70 million adults.
Even if a teen isn’t interested in a bedtime, sleep schedule or adjustable bed systems, talk to them about what they need to get a better night’s sleep.