How much sleep do we need?

Sleep is essential for us and, for good reason, takes up around a third of our lifespan. 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 get older? Here you can find out how our sleeping habits change over the years and how much sleep we really need.

Table of Contents

      1. Sleep & sleep duration
      2. How much sleep do we need?
      3. Your need for sleep counts
      4. Overview: The optimal sleep duration
      5. Conclusion

      1. 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 sleep behavior. However, we are increasingly foregoing sleep in favor of our social structures. People today sleep around 1.5 hours less than they did 100 years ago and a study by the Techniker Krankenkasse shows that one in four Germans already suffers from a lack of sleep. You can find out whether we can, on the contrary, sleep too much in this article. 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 rhythm and determines whether we are more of an evening person (owls) or a morning person (larks). Because our social structures prefer an early start to the day, owl types in particular often have to miss out on important hours of sleep. However, the optimal length of sleep also changes as you get older. Babies and toddlers need significantly more sleep than teenagers, and the need for the duration of the night's rest differs between young and older adults and decreases steadily with age.

      This is because a high amount of sleep is particularly important during the 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 when you sleep.

      And how much sleep do we really need as babies, children, teenagers and adults?

      2. How much sleep do we need?

      After birth (0 – 11 months)

      Wie viel Schlaf brauchen wir als Baby?

      At the beginning of our lives 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 sleepup to 17 hours per day and spend a large part 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, according to the American National Health Foundation, a total of 12 to 17 hours. Since a newborn baby does not yet know a day-night rhythm, these hours are usually divided into 5 to 6 sleep phases during the day and night.

      We have described what else makes a baby sleep in this article.

      In childhood (1 – 13 years)

      Wie viel Schlaf brauchen wir in der Kindheit?

      In the first months and years of life, we slowly adapt to the day-night cycle. Compared to infancy, daytime sleep in particular is reduced, but also the total amount of sleep. Small children (up to 2 years old) sleep at best between 11 and 14 hours. With the increasing abandonment of daytime sleep, up to 13 hours of night sleep is recommended for children aged 2 to 5 years. In the following years, the average amount of sleep required continues to decrease 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.

      You can find out more about sleep in childhood here.

      In youth (14 – 17 years)

      Wie viel Schlaf brauchen wir in der Jugend?

      In the teenage years, physical development slowly comes to an end and the need for a long period of sleep slowly decreases. Teenagers still need more sleep than adults. As our day-night rhythm becomes increasingly independent, it also becomes clearer which sleep type we belong to. 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night is recommended.

      In adulthood (18 – 64 years)

      For adults, a nightly sleep duration of 7 to 9 hours corresponds to the recommendations. As with young years, the optimal length varies depending on sleep type and personal feeling. But the quality of sleep is also crucial for a healthy and productive everyday life. 6 hours of sleep in a row is significantly more restful than 8 hours with several interruptions. As a rule, we have healthy sleeping habits if we sleep no less than 6 or more than 9 hours in the long term and do not interrupt our nightly rest periods.

      In advanced age (from 65 years)

      Wie viel Schlaf brauchen wir im hohen Alter?

      In old age, the average amount of sleep required changes only slightly – approx. 7 to 8 hours is recommended. The fact that older people supposedly sleep less and “run away from bed” is not entirely true. As we get older, the production of the sleep hormone melatonin decreases, which means that we wake up more easily, especially in the morning hours. In addition, older people are more likely to suffer from illnesses and take more medication. Both influence the quality of sleep and can therefore shorten the length of sleep at night. As you get older, it is much easier to compensate for a lack of sleep in the form of afternoon and afternoon naps. You can read more tips for healthy sleep in old age at this place.

      3. Your need for sleep counts

      Sleep is essential for our development, health and performance and, for 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 constantly adapts to age-specific circumstances. Basically, the most important thing is to pay attention to your own needs. Ultimately, we only know what the optimal length of sleep is for us when we wake up the next morning.

      Overview: The optimal sleep duration

      Age Recommended sleep duration
      0 – 3 months
      14 – 17 hours
      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

          4. Conclusion

          • 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 phases of development and growth and need a particularly large amount of sleep (15 - 17 hours), which is spread over the day and night.
          • Children of kindergarten and primary school age reduce their daytime sleep and, depending on their age, sleep best between 10 and 14 hours.
          • Older children and young people usually only sleep at night. A daily sleep duration of between 9 and 11 hours is considered optimal.
          • Adults are recommended to sleep for 7 to 9 hours.
          • For seniors, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is considered optimal.
          • Ultimately, follow your feeling! How long you have to sleep to wake up refreshed depends on you and how you feel.

          Greetings and see you soon!

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