Sleep duration

Did you know ?, Sleep hygiene

Sleep duration

Sleep is one of the body’s vital needs. To maintain our health, to feel rested during the day and to perform at our best, several conditions must be met : sufficient sleep duration, adequate sleep quality and regular sleep patterns so as not to suffer from sleep disorders.

How long do we sleep ?

There is no such thing as universally ideal sleep duration.

Sleep duration is inversely proportional to age (it decreases with age) and is also influenced by genetic parameters.

In other words : there are adult « short sleepers » for whom 4 hours of sleep is sufficient, and in the same age group, you have « long sleepers » who typically need 9 hours of sleep to feel well rested. These tendencies are often noticeable from childhood.

Various reference data is available, with recommended sleep durations for each age group. However, there are always exceptions and the best indicator for how much sleep is sufficient (given regular sleep patterns, good quality of sleep and no sleep disorder) will always be how one feels during the day.

Recommended sleep duration (National Sleep Foundation) (1).

HirshkowitzM, WhitonK,AlbertSM, etal.NationalSleepFoundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations : final report. Sleep Health. 2015;1(4):233–243.

Age Sleep duration
New-born (0–3 months) 14–17 hours
Baby (4–11 months) 12–15 hours
Small child (1–2 years old) 11–14 hours
Preschool age (3–5 years old) 10–13 hours
School age (6–13 years old) 9–11 hours
Teenager (14–17 years old) 8–10 hours
Young adult (18–25 years old) 7–9 hours
Adult (26–64 years old) 7–9 hours
Elderly (≥ 65 years old) 7–8 hours

What is the ideal sleep duration for me ?

This question can be answered by doing a little experiment during the holidays.

Set aside several days (ideally 4-5) without any morning commitment.
Go to bed at a usual time and wake up naturally (no alarm).

During the first 2-3 days, you will likely sleep a lot (and wake up late) because sleep « debt » is common in our modern society.

But after 3-4 days, this debt is usually compensated, and provided you’ve maintained a consistent bedtime, your wake-up time will also become regular – and this is the reference you can use to calculate your « natural sleep requirements ».