The Best Time to Go to Sleep Based on Your Age

The ideal amount of sleep we require each night changes as we age. As a matter of fact, sleep needs are closely aligned with age. In this article, we’re going to highlight how much sleep we need depending on how old we are, and what your target bedtime should be, based on your age.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Experts suggest that adults should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night – an average of eight hours – to be in optimal health. While age plays a large role in determining how much sleep a person needs, other factors like environment, health conditions and genetics can all affect how much sleep is required. Some people are short sleepers, who manage to function on less than seven hours of sleep per night. Others may require more than nine hours before they feel well-rested.

Do Young Children Need More Sleep Than Adults?

In order to feel adequately rested, children require more sleep than adults. In some instances, children might need more than nine hours a night – particularly if they haven’t slept much the previous night (this is called recovering from sleep debt).

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is when a person does not get enough sleep. Over time, it can have a negative impact on mental and physical health. It is therefore important to get enough sleep, based on the amount recommended to you based on your age.

Sleep Recommendations by Age

Age

The National Sleep Foundation has recommended the following amounts of sleep time by age:

  • Newborn babies (0-3 months): An average of 14-17 hours of sleep each day (this includes naps).
  • Infants (4-11 months): An average of 12-15 hours of sleep each day (this includes naps).
  • Toddlers (12-35 months): An average of 11-14 hours of sleep each day (this includes naps).
  • Pre-schoolers (3-5 years): An average of 10-13 hours of sleep each day.
  • Children of school age (6-13 years): An average of 9-11 hours of sleep each day.
  • Teenagers (14-17 years): An average of 8-10 hours of sleep each day.
  • Young adults (18-25): An average of 7-9 hours of sleep each day.
  • Age 25+: An average of 7-9 hours of sleep each day.

What is the Best Time to Go to Sleep Based on Your Age?

To set your optimum bedtime, you’ll first need to decide when you want/need to wake up. Then simply count backwards based on the number of hours you need. It is important to set a regular bedtime routine based on your age, and stick to it. For example:

  • Newborn babies/infants can be put to bed if sleepy between 7pm-8pm.
  • Toddlers should aim for a bedtime between 7pm-9pm.
  • Preschool children should aim for a bedtime between 8pm-9pm.

In adults, school or work schedules might dictate when you need to go to bed (for example if you work shifts). As a general rule, if your school or work requires you to be awake between 5am-7am, you should aim to go to bed at the following approximate times:

  • School-age children/young teenagers: Between 8pm-9pm.
  • College students/young adults: Between 9pm-10pm.
  • Adults (from 25 upwards): Between 10pm-11pm.

If you have trouble sleeping, a routine check-up or health screening service with a primary care centre you can trust may help to identify what is causing the disruption.