People will often cut back on their sleep for work, for family demands, or even to watch a good show on television. But if not getting enough sleep is a regular part of your routine, you may be at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death. Even one night of short sleep can affect you the next day. Not surprisingly, you’re more likely to feel sleepy. On top of that, you’re more likely to be in a bad mood, be less productive at work, and to be involved in a motor vehicle crash.
How much sleep you need changes as you age. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend:
Age Group Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day1,2
Infant 4-12 months 12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Toddler 1-2 years 11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Pre-school 3-5 years 10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
School Age 6-12 years 9-12 hours per 24 hours
Teen 13-18 years 8-10 hours per 24 hours
Adult 18-60 years 7 or more hours per night
The amount of sleep you need changes as you age. Children need more sleep than adults.
Habits to improve your sleep
There are some important habits that can improve your sleep health:
Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom.
Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
What about sleep quality?
Getting enough sleep is important, but good sleep quality is also essential. Signs of poor sleep quality include feeling sleepy or tired even after getting enough sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night, and having symptoms of sleep disorders (such as snoring or gasping for air). Better sleep habits may improve the quality of your sleep. If you have symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as snoring or being very sleepy during the day after a full night’s sleep, make sure to tell your doctor.