Hey Sleepyhead, How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?

July 25, 2013
by Michael Barber
Hey Sleepyhead, How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?

The number of recommended sleep hours you need each night depends on age, however, there are other factors to consider such as health conditions and the medications you take. So, how many hours should you slumber and when should you be concerned about sleeplessness?

Recommended Sleep by Age

The Mayo Clinic says sleep needed according to age is:

  • Infants: 9 to 10 hours with daily naps of 3 hours or more.
  • Toddlers: 9 to 10 hours with up to 3 hours of naps per day.
  • School-Aged Children: 9 to 11 hours each night.
  • Teens: 8.5 ours to 9.25 per night.
  • Adults: 7.5 hours to 8 hours.

Infants who sleep too much or too many hours may need physician family care to determine the reason, especially since they are unable to communicate problems.

Health Conditions That Affect Sleep

Some people are unable to gain recommended sleep hours due to health conditions. These include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Breathing issues such as asthma, COPD or emphysema
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diagnosed sleep disorders, insomnia
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Obesity
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Chronic pain
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Restless leg syndrome

There are also psychiatric conditions that may cause you to lose sleep including:

  • Psychosis
  • Mania
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

If you suffer from one of these conditions and sleep is a problem, it's possible to get immediate help from 24 hour urgent care centers.

Sleep Deprivation from Medications

Some people are sleepless from a variety of medications — including prescribed medications. Ask your family care doctor if you are taking OTC drugs or prescription medicines and experience sleep problems.

Common medications include:

  • Decongestants like pseudoephedrine, especially if taken too late in the day.
  • Alpha or beta blockers for high blood pressure.
  • Corticosteroids used to treat lupus, arthritis and gout.
  • SSRI antidepressants, these are best taken in the morning upon awakening.
  • Ace inhibitors for high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin as these can cause intestinal upsets
  • OTC cold, flu or cough medications, especially if taken more than directed

To ensure your sleep in uninterrupted, follow your doctor's instructions on medication doses and times. For OTC drugs, read the directions or ask a pharmacist.

How to Recognize Sleep Issues

Many people say they suffer from insomnia when in fact, their sleeping patterns or slumber environment may be to blame.

On average, people fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes after lying down. If you find you are tossing and turning, you may be getting too much sleep. If you fall asleep too quickly, you may need more rest.

Waking up before the alarm goes off may mean your brain is sending signals that your body has gotten enough sleep. If you find yourself dozing off during the day, you probably aren't getting enough sleep.

Your slumber space can also be to blame. Do you always fall asleep on the sofa instead of heading to a more comfortable bed? If you work the night shift, does your bedroom have black-out drapes so your body thinks it's nighttime? Do you leave on the television and noise prevents you from sleeping?

Even with recommended sleep hours, if you experience difficulty in sleeping, start a sleeping log on what time you went to bed, how long it took you to fall asleep and the hour you awoke. Sleeping logs can help physicians determine the cause of your sleeping issues.