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Sleep Basics

Sleep Basics

Why is it so important to get a good night’s sleep?

Research shows that sleep plays a role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning and other vital functions. (4) Sleep helps your brain build up its energy and form the pathways it needs to learn, as well as to create memories and new thought patterns. (5)


What can happen if I don’t get enough sleep?

Not getting enough sleep is linked to a number of physical and mental health problems including:

  • Difficulty reacting quickly due to drowsiness. Avoid driving when drowsy, since a drowsy driver’s response time is about the same as a drunk driver’
  • Problems concentrating, forgetfulness and lack of alertness.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Weight gain.
  • Increased risk of chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. (6-9)


How much sleep is enough?

The need for sleep varies by age. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.

However, recent surveys show that the average adult now sleeps fewer than seven hours a night. More than one-third of adults report daytime sleepiness so severe that it interferes with their work. (11)


Sleep needs by age group (10)

Age Group

Number of hours of sleep needed

Birth-2 months
12-18 hours

3-11 months

14-15 hours


1-3 years

12-14 hours

3-5 years

11-13 hours

5-10 years

10-11 hours


10-17 years

8.5-9.5 hours


18 plus

7-9 hours



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