Sleep is a key component of health that many people tend to overlook. When trying to juggle deadlines, work, school, and social commitments people tend to cut back on their sleep to meet the demands of life. However, making lack of sleep a habit can be determinantal to your health in the long run. Proper sleep is important for memory, learning, metabolism, and the immune system.
So, what is the ideal number of hours a person should aim for to get adequate sleep? The amount of sleep needed for an average person changes with age, with the younger population requiring more sleep for proper growth and development. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, the total recommended hours of sleep for an infant (4-12 months) are 12-16 hours a day. For toddlers (1-2 years old) it is 11-14 hours and for ages 3-5 years old, it is 10-13 hours per day. School-age children (6-12 years old) should be getting 9-12 hours of sleep per day, while teenagers (13-18 years old) should get around 8-10 hours. For adults (18 years old and above), it is recommended to get 7 or more hours of sleep per night.
Staying awake past regular bedtimes sometimes results in only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep, which may not seem like a big deal, but it can affect many aspects of your life. The next day you may be irritable, sleepy, lethargic, less productive, and have an increased risk of getting into a car accident. Continued lack of sleep can affect your overall mental and physical health. It increases the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression.
If you think you have trouble with sleep, its not normal and should talk to your doctor about it. Proper diagnosis and treatment improves the quality of life.
Author: Sarah Ahmad, MS4
Approved by: Sabina Ahmad, MD (Sleep Specialist)