How much sleep do we really need?

How much sleep do we really need?The sleep pattern in our house is random and sporadic. We’ve lost our routine and flow, and it’s taking its toll on my body (and my children’s attitudes!)

While getting our sleep patterns back in shape, I asked the all important question: How much sleep do I really need and why?

Are there really side effects linked to lack of sleep?


Lack of sleep can produce both neurobehavioral and physiological consequences. They include (but aren’t limited to):

• Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
• Increase in appetite which can lead to an increase in your BMI (body mass index)
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Increased risk for heart disease
• Increased risk of inflammation
• Increased risk of high blood pressure
• Increased risk for substance abuse and depression
• Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information

With the swing of the pendulum, all of these negatives can turn into positives when your body has had proper rest.

How much sleep do I really need?

We are blessed with a daily time of healing and restoration for our bodies and this occurs when we sleep. After a good night’s rest we’re better prepared for retain information with increased memory and our creative juices will be flowing more freely.

The amount of sleep we need varies greatly from person to person. A generalized guideline is 7-9 hours for adults. Studies show that adults who sleep an average of 7 hours a night live longer than adults who sleep less than 6 hours and more than 8 hours.

For our children, 8.5-9.25 hours of sleep for teens and pre-teens ages 10-17 is typical. It’s interesting to note that a teen’s natural sleep pattern keeps them up later at night, and makes them groggy in the morning. I knew there was a reason high school was so tough!

Elementary-aged kiddos between 5-10 years old need 10-11 hours of sleep. When this age group is overly tired, you see it more in hyperactivity verses sleepiness. Sleep deprived kiddos also struggle with impulse control and attentiveness.

The age group that changes the most is from birth through age 5. Preschoolers (ages 3-5) need 11 to 13 hours, Toddlers (ages 1-3) can use 12 to 14 hours, Infants (age 3months to a year) need 14-15 hoursNewborns can sleep from 12-18 hours a day!

So how do you figure out how much sleep YOU actually need?

A helpful tip comes from Michael H. Bonnet, PhD, a professor of neurology at Wright State University School of Medicine and the director of sleep laboratory at the Dayton Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ohio: “You need enough sleep so you can awaken feeling refreshed without an alarm clock.”

It’s interesting to point out that people can over-sleep, too. Nine hours of sleep or more a day is associated with depression, accidents, illness, and even death.

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