By: Lianna Bass

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Getting a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis plays a major role in your overall health. Most researchers agree the average adult needs at least 7 hours a night. However, this number can change depending on your age and other health factors.

Here’s a rundown of the average sleep times for those who follow a monophasic or polyphasic sleep schedule.

What is the Average Sleep Duration for a Typical Person?

Sleep is broken into various phases. Here’s a rundown of the five stages of sleep:

  • Stage 1. Lasting 5 to 15 minutes, stage 1 is when you transition from conscious to unconscious. It might feel like you’re asleep and awake at the same time. 
  • Stage 2. This is when you’re in a light-to-medium sleep. Your brain waves slow down, but there are sudden short bursts of activity. Additionally, your body temperature decreases and your breathing and heart rate slow down.
  • Stages 3 and 4. This is considered the deep sleep phase. During deep sleep, your brain waves, breathing, heart rate, and body temperature reach their lowest levels. This is also when your body repairs itself on a cellular level.
  • Stage 5. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is when your brain waves become active and your heart rate increases. It’s also when you’re most likely to dream.

You’ll cycle through these stages four to six times each night, with each cycle lasting about 90 minutes. The exact amount depends on how long you sleep for, but you should aim to sleep at least 7 hours each night.

What is an Average Sleep Duration in a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule?

Polyphasic sleep is when you divide your sleeping hours into two or more blocks throughout a 24 hour period. The precise amount of sleep you get depends on the type of polyphasic schedule you stick to.

  • Uberman. The Uberman model consists of 20 minute naps that are spread out throughout the day. A six nap schedule only amounts to 2 total hours of daily sleep. 
  • Everyman. With the Everyman schedule, you get a 3-hour block of sleep each night and three 20-minute naps during the day. This equates to 4 total hours of sleep each day.
  • Triphasic. Triphasic sleep is when you have three 1.5 hour naps each day. This totals up to about 4.5 hours of sleep. Most people who follow this model have one nap in the early morning, one in the afternoon, and one after dusk.

Keep in mind that polyphasic sleep schedules make it almost impossible to get the recommended amount of sleep. This can negatively impact your mental and physical health. 

Average Sleep Duration by Age

The average adult needs about 7 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis, according to a joint statement from the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

However, the amount of sleep you need depends on how old you are. Here’s how much sleep the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests people get, depending on their age.

Life stageAgeSuggested sleep
Newborn0–3 months14–17 hours
Infant4–12 months12–16 hours
Toddler1–2 years11–14 hours
Preschool3–5 years10–13 years
Younger kids 6–12 years9–12 hours
Teenagers13–18 years8–10 hours
Adults18–60 years7 or more hours
Adults61–64 years7–9 hours
Adults65 and older7–8 hours

Side Effects and Risks of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Folks who have a sleep disorder (like insomnia, narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder, or restless leg syndrome) might have a hard time achieving the recommended nightly sleep duration.

Sleep deprivation can cause issues with reacting, focusing, and learning. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), not getting enough sleep can reduce your ability to:

  • finish tasks
  • solve problems
  • make decisions
  • remember things
  • manage behavior or emotions

Additionally, chronic sleep deficiency has been linked to more serious health concerns, including:

That’s why it’s so important to talk to a doctor if you aren’t getting enough sleep. They can help you find solutions that work for your unique situation.

Takeway

There’s no exact average sleep duration for adults. However, most researchers agree the average person needs at least 7 hours a night.

Those who follow a polyphasic sleep schedule or people who have a sleep disorder might not be able to achieve the recommended nightly sleep duration. Talk to a doctor for specific guidance if sleep deprivation is starting to have an effect on your health or quality of life.

SOURCES

Brinkman JE, et al. (2021). Physiology of sleep. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482512/

Hirshkowitz M, et al. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/

How much sleep do I need? (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html

How sleep affects your health. (n.d.). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-deprivation/health-effects

Patel AK, et al. (2022). Physiology, sleep stages. (2022). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526132/

Watson NF, et al. (2015). Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: A joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4434546/

What are sleep deprivation and deficiency? (n.d.). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-deprivation