Sleep is one of the basic necessities of humans. Sleep plays an important role in the normal physiology of people and inadequate sleep may just lead to various problems including physical, emotional and mental alterations.

Sleep is essential for maximum growth and development because a sound sleep improves the production of human growth hormone by the pituitary gland. Sleep also promotes the reparative process of the body in order to enhance healing from any types of injuries. Sleep is also the mechanism of the body to bring back the energy lost through the day’s work.

People require optimal quantities of sleep. However, as much as quantity of sleep is important, the quality of sleep is also essential to allow the body to rest. There are various durations of sleep people need depending on the age and the physical condition. The optimal amount of sleep is also not meaningful when it is not undertaken along with the person’s circadian rhythm. This means that when a person sleeps in a wrong time in a day such as in the case of shift workers, the sleep is still inefficient regardless of the duration.

In order to have the optimal amount of sleep, along with good quality of sleep, one should sleep in the right time of the day considering the two circadian markers: a) getting 6 hours of sleep before the minimum core body temperature and b) having your mid sleep at the maximum concentration of melatonin. This means that the right time for sleeping is before midnight from 9 to 10 pm in order to attain the normal circadian rhythm of the body.

The optimal amount of sleep on the other hand varies by age. The key to manifesting a good amount of sleep is not having daytime sleepiness. When you are sleepy during the day, it means that you are not getting the optimal mount of sleep at night.

Studies show that people, who sleep six to seven hours at night, have the longest life expectancy. However, another research also states that those who sleep more than 8 hours in a day have increased mortality rates. By looking at these results, the mortality rate associated with long duration of sleep may be associated with presence of other factor such as depression. Nevertheless, those who have a normal wake cycle without using the alarm in the morning has better health outcomes.

As discussed earlier, the optimal amount of sleep varies by age. The following table summarizes the optimal amount of sleep by age group:

Population Group
Ideal Sleep Duration
0 to 2 months
12 to 18 hours

3 to 11 months
14 to 15 hours

1 to 3 years
12 to 14 hours

3 to 5 years
11 to 13 hours

5 to 10 years
10 to 11 hours

10 to 17 years
8 to 9 hours

7 to 9 hours

Looking at the table, it is obvious that smaller children have longer sleep requirements. As the child grows and reach adulthood, the optimal amount of sleep required decreases. Children need more sleep for optimum growth and development.

Those who are able to meet these sleep requirements at night are able to function and develop normally. The quality of sleep is also essential so make sure that you get uninterrupted sleep at night.