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Good Question: How Much Sleep Do We Need?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Wayzata Schools voted Monday night to let their high school students sleep in a little longer next year. The district decided to switch start times for high schools and most elementary schools. Studies have shown many teenagers don't get nearly the amount of sleep they need.

So, how much sleep do people need? Good Question.

According to Gallup, the average American adult sleeps 6.8 hours a night. That's less than the National Sleep Foundation's recommended amount of 7-9 hours in a 24-hour period.

"Ever since Edison came up with the lightbulb, we haven't been able to sleep very well at night," says Dr. Imran Khawaja, medical director at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center at Hennepin County Medical Center.

How much sleep a person needs depends on their age. The National Sleep Foundation recently changed its sleep recommendation guidelines.

The NSF has committed to regularly reviewing and providing scientifically rigorous recommendations," says Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, Chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council:

  • Newborns (0-3mo) -- 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11mo) -- 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2y) -- 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5y) -- 10-13 hours
  • School age (6-13y) -- 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17y) -- 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-64y) -- 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+) -- 7-8 hours

Experts don't know exactly why children need more sleep than adults, but some of the theories center around the idea of needing more sleep for brain development.

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