Welcome to our ultimate guide to sleep. How much sleep does your whole family need?
Sleep is an essential component of our existence as humans. Without it, we die. However, how much we need and when we need it varies greatly depending on our age. The following chart gives basic guidelines for sleep by age:
|0 – 3 months||14 – 19 hours|
|4 – 11 months||12 – 18 hours|
|1 – 2 years||11 – 16 hours|
|3 – 5 years||10 – 14 hours|
|6 – 13 years||9 – 12 hours|
|14 – 17 years||8 – 11 hours|
|18 – 25 years||7 – 11 hours|
|26 – 64 years||7 – 10 hours|
|65 +||7 – 9 hours|
Sleep Myth Busters
Unfortunately, myths about sleep and rest may be keeping your family from getting proper rest. Here are some myths:
· Myth: The human body can adjust quickly to new sleep schedules.
· Truth: People cannot reset their biological clocks by much more than an hour or two at a time. If switching to the night shift, for example, it will take a week or more to adjust.
· Myth: If you are tired during the day, extra sleep at night is the solution.
· Truth: Quantity of sleep is much less important than quality. Sleeping well is the most vital component of getting rest.
· Myth: A work week of late nights can be made up for with a restful weekend.
· Truth: Sleep debt cannot be relieved by sleeping more and later on the weekends and may disrupt your normal sleep cycle. For example, if you sleep until 11 on Sunday, getting to bed that evening may be a challenge, setting you up for a tired Monday and a fatigued rest of the week.
· Myth: Snoring is common and not at all harmful.
· Truth: Snoring is not always dangerous, but it can be a sign of a more significant problem, like sleep apnea. This is especially concerning if the snoring is accompanied by daytime exhaustion. People who snore loudly – especially if there are abrupt pauses in the snoring – should see a doctor.
How much sleep do Mom and Dad need?
Most parents will fall into the 18-25 or 26 – 64 age range, meaning they need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep (see the chart above). Research shows that moms tend to be sleep-deprived. However, sleep patterns do not change when men become dads.
Less than half of moms under the age of 45 surveyed for a Georgia Southern University study reported getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Women – especially mothers – are multi-taskers and use many parts of the brain throughout the day which means they require more sleep than most men. However, men tend to get much better rest.
What does this mean? Super-moms do not exist, and men may need to step up more in this regard.
Why do babies and toddlers need so much sleep?
Newborns sleep more than they are awake. In the early months, their tiny bodies and brains are developing at a breakneck pace. Even an hour of wakefulness for an infant can be a very long time. Physical growth, as well as constant mental stimuli, create one sleepy little person.
Toddlers sleep a bit less and usually have more routine sleep patterns. They may have nap times throughout the day but they will stay awake for many hours at a time. However, their developmental needs are still enormous and sleep and diet are two of the main ways that a parent can see to it that they are developing well. Toddlers who do not get enough rest will be cranky, more prone to tantrums, etc.
Why is rest important for school-aged kids?
Sometimes, as kids get bigger, parents slack off on sleep. But, kids who don’t get enough rest are not likely to be as healthy or happy as kids who sleep well each evening. Remember the myths above – kids who miss sleep during the school week cannot make up for it over the weekend.
While their sleep needs may decrease as kids start to hit school-age, their rest is no less critical. They probably do not need a nap throughout the day, but they do need solid sleep at night and a routine that they can anticipate.
Healthy sleep routines will allow them to be excited and alert each morning for school. It will also enable their small bodies to grow while their brain does some major developmental work. Sleep is a foundational aspect of wellness.
Why do teens sleep so much?
Anyone who has ever lived with a teenager knows that most of them – if left to their own devices – can sleep half of the day away. Their sleep needs top out at around 11 hours so even if they are responsible young people and have their lights out by 10:30 pm they could still easily need to sleep until 9:30 am.
It’s important to be aware that teenagers are not just younger versions of grown-ups. Just as they have different emotional needs, for example, teens have different sleep needs as their bodies go through hormonal changes and they continue to grow and develop.
What about Grandma and Grandpa?
Unfortunately, as we age, insomnia is more common. This is sometimes due to health issues like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome (which should be addressed with a physician), but other times it is simply because seniors may have to use the restroom more at night or have anxiety.
Also, seniors may not need more sleep, but advanced sleep phase syndrome has set in. This means that the body’s internal clock has adjusted to earlier bed and wakeup times. However, seniors may continue to stay up late as they did when they were younger. Therefore, the quality of their sleep is compromised.
While sleep is vital to our health and happiness, many people (moms, mainly) do not give enough focus to ensuring that they sleep well and that they get the hours that they need. The first step toward better sleep habits, it would seem, would be to realize that rest is vital to human health and not something that we can afford to ignore.