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How much sleep do humans need?

Published: 01st May, 2017 at 14:00
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Zzzz… the amount of sleep a person needs changes throughout their lifetime.

Asked by: Martin Moore, Glasgow


The cliché is that we need eight hours a night, but the actual answer to this question is more complicated. Our sleep requirements change throughout life. Guidelines proposed by the National Sleep Foundation in 2015 recommended that newborns have 14 to 17 hours per night, teenagers have 8 to 10 hours, and adults have 7 to 9 hours. These guidelines focus largely on ‘average’ requirements, but individuals can differ greatly from one another. For example, it may be appropriate for certain teenagers to have as few as 7 hours per night, or as many as 11. If you’re not functioning your best, it’s worth considering whether you’re getting enough sleep.


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Alice is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths. She has contributed to several diverse research areas, including the longitudinal associations between sleep and psychopathology, behavioural genetics, sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome. In addition to her scientific contributions she also excels in the public engagement of science. She has published two popular science book (Nodding Off, Bloomsbury, 2018 and Sleepy Pebble, Nobrow, 2019). She regularly contributes articles to the media and has had her work published in outlets including the Guardian, GQ UK, Sud Ouest, Slate Fr, Independent.


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