New Sleep Recommendations by the National Sleep Foundation

By: Sonya A. McNeill, B.S, RST, RPSGT

Are you getting enough sleep? If your answer is “No” you are not alone. Sleep deprivation and restrictions is a serious problem facing our nation. Have you ever burned the mid-night oil? Unfortunately, most of us have at some point in our lives. Do you remember how you felt the next day? Well, you probably felt a bit groggy, tired or even had difficulty concentrating. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), sleep deprivation is categorized as a national epidemic; with 50-70 million Americans suffering from sleep restrictions. For the past several years, the National Sleep Foundation has conducted “Sleep in America” polls. The polls revealed that 20% of the population gets less than 6 hours of sleep nightly.  We have known for years that getting enough sleep is a biological necessity. In fact, getting enough sleep is as important as eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and getting enough exercise (Wolfson & Carskadon, 1998). Previous research conducted has revealed that poor sleep hygiene affects quality of life, cognitive skills, emotions, and over-all health.   The National Sleep Foundation recently updated sleep duration recommendations across a lifespan. The new recommendations include 9 age groups. The sleep duration ranges are expressed as hours of sleep per day.  A multidisciplinary expert panel of 18 people evaluated the most recent scientific evidence which included participating in a census and voting process. The process the rigorous and concluded the following new sleep duration recommendations. www.sleephealthjournal.org

Newborns 0-3 months: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 14-17 hours for newborns.  Newborns sleep duration may vary, specifically during the first days of life. It’s expected that during the first days of life, that infants are longer sleepers. www.sleephealthjournal.org

Infants 4-11 months: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 12-15 hours for infants. According to the NSF panel, rapid maturational changes occur during infancy. Sleep durations may vary widely based on the infants month of age. Studies that assessed the risks associated with long sleep durations in infants were limited however evidence suggests a link between short sleep durations, abnormal growth and obesity. In contrast, according to the NSF panel, long sleep durations could limit an infant’s environmental interaction which interferes with cognitive and emotional development.  Moreover, long sleep durations may signal physical and/or mental health conditions. Therefore, concise clinical evaluations of long sleepers are recommended for infants 4-11 months. www.sleephealthjournal.org

Toddlers 1-2 years: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 11-14 hours for toddlers. According to the NSF panel, as with infants, toddlers experience rapid maturational changes as well.   Experimental studies reveal a link between short sleep durations, obesity, hyperactivity impulsivity and a reduction in cognitive performance.  Evidence also revealed slightly longer sleep durations may benefit toddlers emotional well being. However, long sleep durations could interfere with a toddler’s exploration, physical and social environments. In addition, interfere with motor, cognitive, and social development. www.sleephealthjournal.org

Preschoolers 3-5 years: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 10-13 hours for preschoolers. As with toddlers, evidence revealed slightly longer sleep durations may benefit emotional as well as physical well being of preschoolers. Evidence also showed that preschool children that slept < 9 hours are at greater risk for developing obesity In contrast, to children sleeping 10 or more hours. www.sleephealthjournal.org

School-aged children 6-13 years: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 9-11 hours for school-aged children. A wide variety of evidence exits with school aged children in contrast to the younger age groups. Evidence indicates a link between short sleep durations and reduced cognitive function as well as poor academic achievements in school-aged children. Interestingly, a postpubertal adolescent sleep less than a prepubertal school aged child however when sleep is slightly extended in postpubertal adolescents their cognitive and academic performance increased.  www.sleephealthjournal.org

Teenagers 14-17 years: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 8-10 hours for teenagers. Unlike previous age groups discussed, evidence was consistent in all health components. Teens are at a higher risk of sleep deprivation due to their natural biological clock that keeps them up later at night. Teenagers are involved in after activities and completing school work.  Teenagers spend an excessive amount of time using computers, social media and games which prolongs sleep onsets. www.sleephealthjournal.org

Young adults 18 >25 years: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 7-9 hours for young adults. Young adults experience changes in sleep hygiene due to newfound freedom. Obligations at school, within the workforce and social changes are evident. Young adults typically need less parental constraint and don’t comply with a consistent bed time.  They begin to meet new friends in college and the work place.  Young adults are more likely to be involved in car accidents. www.sleephealthjournal.org

Adults 26-64 years: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 7-9 hours. Sleep deprivation as well as sleep restrictions are most notable in adults, especially in 45-54 year olds. Adverse affects of sleep deprivation is evident regarding multi-tasking, job safety, mental health, sugar regulation, weight reduction, blood pressure and cardiovascular health, particularly during the workweek. www.sleephealthjournal.org

Older adults 65 > years: The National Sleep foundation (NSF) recommends sleep durations of 7-8 hours. Older adults retire or work less hours which reduce their responsibilities. Therefore maintaining a consistent sleep schedule may be difficult. Older adults tend to nap more and sleep less at night. Various factors produce daytime sleepiness and poor night time sleep hygiene such as increased stress, health conditions and pharmacological drugs. www.sleephealthjournal.org

The price you pay for not getting enough sleep can be costly.  The vast majority of society should follow the recommendations.  Slight changes in your sleep may have significant consequences on your well-being such as;  day time sleepiness and fatigue, poor memory, poor judgment, poor social skills, difficulty recalling, mood disorders, difficulty concentrating, poor academic performance, obesity and health issues.   In addition, short sleep duration’s increases chances of occupational and automobile accidents. http://drowsydriving.org/about/whos-at-risk/ As sleep practitioners and clinician’s it important to interview parents, caregivers and patients to ensure they are getting the recommended amount of sleep.  Therefore, in light of the new sleep recommendations issued by the National Sleep Foundation, It’s paramount to make sleep a priority. After all, your life depends on it.  For more information, please visit the National Sleep Foundation’s website at https://sleepfoundation.org/.

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