The National Sleep Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is committed to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. The organization is looked to for guidance on topics regarding sleep by consumers, health advocates and legislators, so it made headlines when they recently revised their recommendations for the amount of sleep that they are recommending that people get each night.
The organization acknowledges that though sleep is essential for safety and health, the amount that each person needs is highly individualized and dependent upon a number of factors. Some people are what are known as short sleepers who need less sleep than others, and others have a genetic or medical need for more sleep. Still, there are recommendations that are appropriate for the large majority of people who fall into each age group. The change that has been made in the new recommendations extends the amount of sleep that infants, children and teens get.
There has been a great deal of recent attention focused on the fact that the average American student is getting far too little sleep, and that it is having a serious impact on their ability to learn, as well as their safety and health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended delaying school start times for middle and high school to allow children and teens more time to sleep, and the new recommendations echo the general feeling that American youth is sleep deprived and that a change needs to take place.
The new recommendations for each age group, as well as the previous recommendations, are listed below:
Newborns 0-3 months: now 14-17 hours/day, previously 12-18 hours/day
Infants 4-11 months; now 12-15 hours/day, previously 14-15 hours/day
Toddlers 1-2 years; now 11-14 hours/day, previously 12-14 hours/day
Preschoolers 3-5 years; now 10-13 hours/day, previously 11-13 hours/day
School Age 6-13 years; now 9-11 hours/day, previously 10-11 hours/day
Teenagers 14-17 years; now 8-10 hours/day, previously 8.5-9.5 hours/day
Young Adults 18-25; 7-9 hours (new age category)
Adults 26-64; 7-9 hours (remains the same)
Older adults 65+; 7-8 hours/day (new age category)
The changes, though minor at first glance, are the result of recommendations that were made by a panel of scientists and researchers representing a number of prominent and prestigious medical associations and facilities from across the country. The group of experts was asked to review the results of hundreds of studies regarding the ideal amount of sleep for health and well being, and were then invited to create their own recommendations for the optimal number of hours for each age group. As a result, the suggested amount of sleep for all of the groups of young people were narrowed to create a more specific number. Additionally, the new age groups were introduced.