I speak to a lot of people who struggle with insomnia and other sleep issues.
One phrase I hear all too often is:
I struggle to get 8 hours of sleep.
When I hear this, I usually find sleep issues to be the result of anxiety towards sleep. These individuals put pressure on themselves to get a specific amount of sleep. When they don't get those mythical 8 hours, they worry some more and this leads to more anxiety and less sleep.All this stress and anxiety is down to the idea that we need a set amount of of sleep.
As I've said before, this is not the case. Studies have demonstrated that we don't need as much sleep as we think we do.
The health risks associated with less sleep only show up when we are truly sleep deprived - and even then, after controlling for other factors they may not exist at all.
With all this being said, the National Sleep Foundation has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a review of global studies by a panel of sleep experts from organizations including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Geriatrics Society, and the American Physiological Society.
The amount of sleep you need depends on your age.
How much sleep do newborns need? (0-3 months)
Recommended sleep duration: 14 to 17 hours but 11 to 19 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do infants need? (4-11 months)
Recommended sleep duration: 12 to 15 hours but 10 to 18 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do toddlers need? (1-2 years)
Recommended sleep duration: 11 to 14 hours but 9 to 16 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do preschoolers need? (3-5 years)
Recommended sleep duration: 10 to 13 hours but 8 to 14 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do school-aged children need? (6-13 years)
Recommended sleep duration: 9 to 11 hours but 7 to 12 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do teenagers need? (14-17 years)
Recommended sleep duration: 8 to 10 hours but 7 to 11 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do young adults need? (18-25 years)
Recommended sleep duration: 7 to 9 hours but 6 to 11 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do adults need? (26-64 years)
Recommended sleep duration: 7 to 9 hours but 6 to 10 hours may be appropriate .
How much sleep do older adults need? (65 years and older)
Recommended sleep duration: 7 to 8 hours but 5 to 9 hours may be appropriate .
Most people reading this article will fall into the 'older adult' or 'adult' category. If that includes you, you're probably going to be OK with as little 5 or 6 hours of sleep, respectively.
Further proof that the last thing you should be worrying about when you get into bed at night is how much sleep you should be getting.
Instead, you should remove all worries and anxieties you have about sleep. Relax and just see what happens.
For more tips and advice on how to fall asleep (and stay asleep), you can enroll in my free online insomnia sleep training course.
Source: National Sleep Foundation
Last updated: July 14, 2016