How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Sleep is the engine of human learning. As mammals with prolonged gestation beyond the womb and an incredibly long learning period, the capacity to form new neurological connections and develop new emotional and physical abilities is central to our lives. This is where sleep comes in – it is the primary mechanism of personal development.

The amount of sleep we require changes as we grow. At every age, our brains and bodies are undergoing change. During periods of intensive development we need even more sleep than during more stable periods in our lives. As a newborn baby, we experience the most sleep we ever get: about 14-17 hours every day. About 65% of this early phase of life is spent sleeping. As we age, the demand for sleep diminishes to around of 7-8 hours of sleep each day.

The demand for sleep never goes away. While it's commonly understood that adults have a reduced capacity for learning and forming new neurological connections, it's not quite accurate. Even adults aged 65 and older continue to develop and evolve, and the demand for sleep follows.

Here are the sleep requirements for every age group. This isn't medical guidance – these are general sleep requirements subject to great individual variation. Our suggestion is to always ensure an ample window of sleep and consistently make improvements to sleep quality, at every age.

  • Newborn (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
  • Infant (4-12 months): 12–16 hours
  • Toddler (1-2 years): 11–14 hours
  • Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School Age (6-12 years): 9-12 hours of sleep
  • Teen (13–18 years): 8–10 hours
  • Adult (18–60 years): 7 or more hours
  • Adult (61-64 years): 7-9 hours
  • Adult (65+ years): 7-8 hours

(Sources:; Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, Alessi C, Bruni O, et al; Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D’Ambrosio C, Hall WA, Kotagal S, Lloyd RM, et al; Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al.)

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