Do you know how much sleep you really need?

how much sleep you need

Sleep is vital for our health, but how much is enough?  Once upon a time, it was thought that the average adult needed only 8 hours of sleep per night. However, with changing lifestyles and new research on the topic, this number has been updated to 7-9 hours per night for most adults, depending on age and activity level.  

Here’s a guide to how the amount of sleep you need changes as you age.

The amount of sleep a child needs decreases as they grow older and of course each individual’s sleep requirements are different. Please use the information in the table below as a guide. Observing how a person behaves and functions during the day is usually a good indicator of whether they get enough sleep at night.


0-3 months

14 to 17 hours

11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours


4-11 months

“12 to 15 hours “

10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours


1-2 years

11 to 14 hours

9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours


3-5 years

10 to 13 hours

8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years

9 to 11 hours

7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours


14-17 years

8 to 10 hours

7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years

7 to 9 hours

6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours

Adults 26-64 years

7 to 9 hours

6 hours

10 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 10 hours

Older Adults

≥ 65 years

7 to 8 hours

5-6 hours

9 hours

Less than 5 hours

More than 9 hours

The above recommendations for sleep duration are from a report of an expert panel convened by the National Sleep Foundation and published in their journal Sleep Health in 2015.

Napping and how this changes with age

For babies younger than two months, a single sleep period may range between 30 minutes and three to four hours. And this is throughout both the day and night. A bottle-fed baby tends to sleep more than a breast-fed baby (3-4 hours vs. 2-3 hours).

Babies start sleeping for longer periods at around 2 months of age. Especially at night between 12 midnight and 5am. During this period, they begin to develop a night-day (circadian) rhythm that favours sleep at night and heightened arousal during the day.

By 6 months of age, babies can sleep up to 8 hours a night. Even so, 25-50% of children aged 6 months still awaken at night. It is possible to counteract this by ensuring that they learn to go to sleep in their cot by themselves at the beginning of the night. After they wake up during the night, they’ll be better able to self-soothe themselves back to sleep.

The number of daytime naps decreases from 3 – 4 to 2 between 2 months and 12 months of age. Morning naps typically end between 12 and 18 months of age. Allow time for an afternoon nap after lunch and before 4pm. From about 2 or 3 years on, daytime naps become less common.

After the age of 5, taking frequent naps during the day is not normal. It is likely that the child is not getting enough sleep at night. A poor sleep routine, sleep problems, or sleep disorders may be responsible. A sleep specialist may need to be consulted if you are concerned.

Why do teenagers want to stay up later?

In this age group, sleep patterns change. Sleeping in and going to bed later at night is perfectly natural for them. Nonetheless, this should be within reason and teenagers should be taught good sleep habits. If they don’t get enough sleep, they won’t be able to function well during the day.

Adult Sleep

In early adulthood, around the age of 20, sleep requirements stabilise. Although sleep needs vary from person to person, most adults require between 7 and 9 hours to feel properly rested and function at their best the next day. However, many people try to get away with less sleep. There are some who are truly short sleepers, while others may require more than the average amount though the reasons for such variability is not widely understood. Although older adults spend more time in bed, their sleep requirements are similar to those of their younger years unless a sleep problem develops.

The exact amount of sleep you need each night can vary within these ranges based on your age and lifestyle, but everyone should aim for seven to nine hours every night. Some people may feel fully rested on less than seven hours while others may require more than nine hours. It’s best to listen to your body and go to bed when you’re tired.

Arrange a Sleep Study

Queensland Sleep is an accredited sleep service. We are proud to have experienced doctors, nurses and sleep scientists on our highly specialised team.