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Everyone needs sleep. Some more than others, but we all sleep. How much sleep you actually need is mainly determined by your age. Babies and children generally need more sleep and as you get older the amount of sleep they need will decrease. Below we explain what is known about this.
Table of contents
We spend about a third of our lives sleeping. Lost time? No, definitely not! Sleep is a state in which you recover physically and mentally. Sleep consists of a number of cycles of sleep phases: you start with light sleep and then go into deep sleep. That deep sleep ensures physical recovery. Deep sleep turns into REM sleep, also called dream sleep, which is important for your mental recovery, because your brain gives everything you have experienced during the day a place during this sleep phase.
In addition, the brain cells shrink when you are sleeping. That sounds a bit scary, but it is actually very healthy, because it gives body fluids free play between the brain cells and in this way toxins and waste products that have accumulated during the day are cleared. While you are sleeping, your brain is cleaned properly. But how many hours of sleep do you need to wake up fit and rested?
Some people like to boast that they need very little sleep. Former US President Donald Trump says three to four hours of sleep is enough. Former Chancellor Angela Merkel also seems to have regular nights with a sleep duration of about four hours and there is a whole list of celebrities who need bizarrely little sleep. They are sometimes called the ‘Sleepless Elite’. But is it healthy to sleep only four hours a day? According to the Dutch Brain Foundation, less than six hours of sleep a night is really a no-go and every adult needs an average of eight hours of sleep. One needs seven hours, while the other really needs nine hours of sleep.
Babies, small children and teenagers need a lot of sleep. Much more than adults. Sleep plays a crucial role in brain development, which is why it is very important that you get enough sleep for the first 24 years of your life. If you think you ‘lose’ a lot of time sleeping a third of your life: a baby sleeps fourteen to eighteen hours a day. In the first six weeks they often have short naps of a few hours and then they wake up because they are hungry. After about six weeks, most babies begin to develop a biological clock and sleep longer at night. Very nice for mom and dad, because they do have a biological clock and prefer to sleep undisturbed at night.
Some children need more sleep than others, but as children get older, they need less sleep. A five-year-old easily needs eleven hours a night, while a nine-year-old usually needs ten hours of sleep. As long as your primary school-age child wakes up spontaneously on school days, feels like breakfast after half an hour and has enough energy all day, you’ll be fine with that number of sleep hours.
But how much sleep does a 14-year-old need? And how many hours should a 15-year-old sleep? Most young people from the age of 12 need nine hours of sleep a night. That means that a 13-year-old needs just as much sleep as a 16-year-old and that only starts to decrease when the child is 18 years old. During puberty, the biological clock changes, which means that adolescents often become late sleepers. They can’t help it, but it sometimes causes problems, because school starts around half past eight. As a result, many teens are chronically sleep deprived and use the weekend to sleep through the day.
We mentioned it earlier: less than six hours of sleep is a no-go and every person needs an average of eight hours of sleep. In other words, an adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep. The Brain Foundation, together with Trimbos, conducted studies in which they had attention tests performed by four different groups: a group that had not slept at all, a group that had slept for four hours, one with six hours of sleep and a fourth group who had slept eight hours. had slept. The results of the low-sleepers were no less than four hundred percent worse than the group of people who had slept for eight hours. And do you know what was really striking about this research? The people who had slept for four hours had just as bad results as the people who hadn’t slept at all, but thought they were doing very well.
Does this mean that you should sleep as long as possible from now on? No, that’s not the intention either. Seven to nine o’clock is the best for body and mind. On average, one needs seven hours while the other really needs nine hours of sleep. But the chance that you will perform optimally if you sleep less than six hours each night is nil.
A newborn baby sleeps fourteen to eighteen hours a day, a ten-year-old child needs just under ten hours of sleep a night and an adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Does the need for sleep get lower as the years go by and do we only need a few hours in the fall of our lives? No, that’s a myth. As you get older, your sleeping pattern changes. As the years go by, you spend less time on deep sleep and more time on light sleep, making it easier to wake up. Yet a person over 65 needs just as much sleep as someone in their thirties or forties. So people aged 65 or older also need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Of course it is not only about quantity, but also about quality. Eight hours of sleep is fine, but if you sleep very lightly and wake up every time in between, you are still very tired during the day. There are various causes that cause you to sleep poorly, such as stress, gnawing mosquitoes in the summer or a sick and coughing toddler in the room next to yours. But a mattress can also break or make your night’s sleep. If you have a worn out, too hard or too soft mattress, you will not be able to fully relax and you will not wake up rested. Or you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore shoulder or a sore hip because your blood supply or your muscles have become constricted.
That is why you choose a mattress with the perfect support and optimal comfort. And beware, a mattress is more than just the hardness! Just think of temperature regulation and use of materials. So get good advice from a sleep expert.
Recommended sleep by age group
|Newbord (0-3 months)||14-18 hours|
|Baby’s (4-11 months)||12-15 hours|
|Toddlers (1-2 years)||12-14 hours|
|Toddlers (3-4 years)||11-13 hours|
|Toddlers (5-6 years)||9-12 hours|
|Basisschoolleeftijd (6-13 years)||9-11 hours|
|Teenagers (14-18 years)||8-10 hours|
|pre-adult (18-24 Years)||8-10 hours|
|Volwassene (24 years and up)||7-9 hours|
Frequently Asked Questions
For most people, this is somewhere between 7 and 9 a.m. However, children often need some extra hours.
Babies need the most sleep because the brain still has a lot to develop. This can go up to 18 hours a day. Toddlers need around 9 to 14 hours and adolescents 8 to 10 hours. Adults need less sleep at 7 to 9 hours. This also applies to older ages.
An adult needs an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
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