Getting Your Snooze On

Photo of a young boy, sleeping.

Credit: Bijal Trivedi

Have trouble sleeping? If so, you’re not alone. At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and another 20 million have occasional problems. Many more (including me) just don’t seem to find enough hours in the day and night to get adequate sleep.

Lack of sleep has been linked to a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Sleep deprivation can also affect alertness and reflexes. And that can be lethal—tired drivers cause an estimated 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1,500 vehicle-related deaths each year.

So, how much sleep do you really need? While there’s a lot of individual variation based on age, health status, and genetic factors, average daily sleep needs are:

Babies 16 to 18 hours
Preschoolers 11 to 12 hours
School-age children 10 hours
Teens 9 to 10 hours
Adults 7 to 8 hours

And a special note for expectant parents: women often need several extra hours of sleep during the first three months of pregnancy.

If you’d like to test your sleep I.Q., check out this online quiz.

And visit the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to learn more about sleep, and what NIH research is doing to better understand its effects on health and behavior.

4 thoughts on “Getting Your Snooze On

  1. Excellent article. The picture makes me want to lie down and go to sleep, the child looks so comfortable! If only we could sleep like babies.

  2. Certain diseases even bring on sleep disturbances as one of their primary symptoms — for example, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME.) Researchers have found unusual patterns in sleep of these patients,and some specialist doctors encourage treating these symptoms.

  3. I usually get around 8 to 9 hours of sleep a day. Lack of sleep can invite a lot of health problems. It’s better to get a sufficient sleep in order to stay healthy.

  4. I agree with Jones on this. Getting insufficient amount of sleep can really lead to health risk and some kind of illness.

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