Sleep is essential for us and takes up around a third of our lifetime for good reason. Whether we wake up refreshed in the morning depends not only on the quality but also on the duration of our sleep. But how much sleep is actually healthy and why do we sleep less and less as we age? Here you can find out how our sleep patterns have changed over the years and how much sleep we really need.
Table of Contents
- Sleep & sleep duration
- How much sleep do we need?
- Your need for sleep counts
- Overview: The optimal sleep duration
Sleep and sleep duration
Sleep determines around a third of our lives. In addition to the actual quality of sleep, the duration of sleep is also crucial for healthy and restful sleeping habits. However, more and more often we do without sleep in favor of our social structures. People sleep around 1.5 hours less today than they did 100 years ago, and a study by Techniker Krankenkasse shows that every fourth German suffers from a lack of sleep. You can find out in this article whether, on the contrary, we can also sleep too much. However, how many hours of sleep we really need per night to wake up refreshed varies from person to person and depends on various factors.
The circadian rhythm, also known as the internal clock, influences our sleep-wake cycle and determines whether we are more of an evening person (owl) or a morning person (lark). Because our social structures prefer an early start to the day, the owl type in particular often has to do without important hours of sleep. The optimal length of sleep also changes with age. Babies and toddlers need significantly more sleep than teenagers, and the need for the duration of the nocturnal rest phase also differs in young and older adults and steadily decreases with age.
This is because a high amount of sleep is very important, especially during human development and growth phases. Sleep plays a central role in our mental and physical health, forms the basis for our performance and is the most important regeneration and repair period.
Read here what exactly happens during sleep.
And how much sleep do we really need as babies, children, teenagers and adults?
How much sleep do we need?
After birth (0-11 months)
At the beginning of our life we need the most sleep, because important development processes take place. Growth hormones are released, the immune system is formed, and impressions and information are processed and stored. Newborns therefore sleep up to 17 hours per day and spend much of this time in REM sleep. Because sensory impressions also have a much stronger effect on babies, the optimal sleep duration in the first eleven months of life is 12 to 17 hours according to the American National Health Foundation. Since a newborn baby does not yet know a day-night rhythm, these hours are usually divided into 5 to 6 sleep phases for day and night.
In childhood (1-13 years)
In the first months and years of life, we slowly adapt to the day-night cycle. Compared to infancy, the daytime sleep in particular is reduced, but so is the total amount of sleep. Infants (up to 2 years) sleep between 11 and 14 hours at best.With the increasing renunciation of daytime sleep, up to 13 hours night rest is recommended for children aged 2 to 5 years. In the following years, the amount of sleep required on average continues to fall and a fixed rhythm without daytime sleep sets in. For children up to the age of 13, a nightly sleep duration of between 9 and 11 hours is considered optimal.
In youth (14-17 years)
In the teenage years, physical development slowly comes to an end and the need for a long sleep duration slowly decreases. Teenagers still need more sleep than adults. With the increasingly independent design of the day-night rhythm, it becomes clearer which sleep type we belong to. Recommended 8 to 10 hours sleep per night.
In adulthood (18-64 years)
For adults, a nightly sleep duration of 7 to 9 hours is in line with recommendations. As at a young age, the optimal length varies depending on the type of sleeper and personal feelings. However, the quality of sleep is also crucial for a healthy and productive everyday life. 6 hours of sleep in a row are significantly more restful than 8 hours with several interruptions. As a rule, we have a healthy sleep pattern if we sleep no less than 6 or more than 9 hours in the long term and do not interrupt the nocturnal rest phases.
Advanced age (from 65 years)
In old age, the average amount of sleep required changes only slightly - approx. 7 to 8 hours is recommended. It is therefore not entirely true that older people supposedly sleep less and resort to bed escape. As we age, the production of the sleep hormone melatonin decreases, making it easier for us to wake up, especially in the mornings. In addition, older people are more likely to suffer from illnesses and take more medication. Both affect the quality of sleep and can therefore shorten the duration of sleep at night. A lack of sleep in old age can also be compensated much more easily in the form of afternoon naps.
Your need for sleep counts
Sleep is essential for our development, health and performance and, with good reason, takes up a large part of our lifetime. The fact that we sleep differently over the years is part of the natural rhythm of our lives and adapts again and again to age-specific circumstances. Basically, it is therefore important to pay attention to your own needs. Ultimately, we only know what the best personal sleep duration is for us the next morning when we wake up.
Overview: The optimal sleep duration
|age||Recommended sleep duration|
|0 - 3 months||
|4 - 11 months||12-15 hours|
|1 – 2 years||11-14 hours|
|3 – 5 years||10-13 hours|
|6 – 13 years||9-11 hours|
|14 – 17 years||8-10 hours|
|18 – 25 years||7-9 hours|
|26 – 64 years||7-9 hours|
|from 65 years||7-8 hours|
The need for sleep changes over time, we get used to a fixed sleep-wake rhythm and need less sleep as we get older
Babies and toddlers are in important development and growth phases and need a lot of sleep (15 - 17 hours), which is divided between day and night.
Children of kindergarten and primary school age reduce their daytime sleep and, depending on their age, sleep between 10 and 14 hours.
Older children and young people usually only sleep at night. A daily sleep duration between 9 and 11 hours is considered optimal.
A sleep duration of 7 to 9 hours is recommended for adults.
For seniors, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is considered optimal.
Ultimately follow your instincts! How long you have to sleep to wake up refreshed depends on you and how you feel.
Greetings and see you soon!