New Guidelines for Sleep Goals

February 17, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Students who pull all-nighters may want a refresher on how much sleep they should be getting each night.

Students who pull all-nighters may want a refresher on how much sleep they should be getting each night.

The good news is that the new guidelines, published in Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, provide a wider range of sleep goals. For example, school-aged children should be sleeping 9 to 11 hours each night, as opposed to the previously recommended 10 to 11 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s panel.

One of the panel’s new age groups—younger adults aged 18 to 25 years—should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, as little as 6 hours or as much as 11 hours may still be appropriate for some individuals, according to the findings.

Any amount of sleep below 6 hours or above 11 hours was not recommended. The panel cautioned against sleeping for a prolonged time period due to the risk of “compromising his or her health and well-being.”

Teenagers aged 14 to 17 years should sleep between 8 to 10 hours now, as opposed to the previous guidelines of 8.5 to 9.5 hours.

The recommended sleep range was narrowed for newborns, who should sleep 14 to 17 hours a day, rather than the previously advised 12 to 18 hours. Infants aged 4 to 11 months should be the next biggest sleepers at 12 to 15 hours—a range that used to be 14 to 15 hours.

Interestingly, the sleep range for adults aged 26 to 64 years remained the same at 7 to 9 hours, but a new category for older adults differed slightly. According to the panel, adults aged 65 years or older should sleep between 7 to 8 hours a night.

To derive these findings, the panel’s experts analyzed 320 studies on sleep duration in healthy individuals, as well as the effects of reduced or prolonged sleep and its health consequences.

"We still have a great deal to learn about the function of sleep," said panel member Lydia DonCarlos, PhD, professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, in a press release. "We know it's restorative and important for memory consolidation. But we don't know the details of what the function of sleep is, even though it is how we spend one-third of our lives."