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Get Enough Sleep

The Basics

Everyone needs to get enough sleep. Sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy.

How much sleep do I need?
Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. Make changes to your routine if you can't find enough time to sleep.

Getting enough sleep isn’t only about total hours of sleep. It’s also important to:

  • Go to sleep at about the same time every day
  • Get good quality sleep so you feel rested when you wake up

If you often have trouble sleeping – or if you don’t feel well rested after sleeping – talk with your doctor.

How much sleep to children need?
Kids need even more sleep than adults.

  • Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • School-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep each night.
  • Preschoolers need to sleep between 11 and 12 hours a day.
  • Newborns need to sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day.

Why is getting enough sleep important?
Getting enough sleep has many benefits. It can help you:

  • Get sick less often
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Reduce stress and improve your mood
  • Think more clearly and do better in school and at work
  • Get along better with people
  • Make good decisions and avoid injuries (For example, sleepy drivers cause thousands of car crashes every year.)

Does it matter when I sleep?
Yes. Your body sets your “biological clock” according to the pattern of daylight where you live. This helps you naturally get sleepy at night and stay alert during the day.

When people have to work at night and sleep during the day, they can have trouble getting enough sleep. When people travel to a different time zone, they can also have trouble sleeping.

Get sleep tips to help you:

Why can’t I fall asleep?
Many things can make it harder for you to sleep, including:

  • Stress
  • Pain
  • Certain health conditions
  • Some medicines
  • Caffeine (usually from coffee, tea, and soda)
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Untreated sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or insomnia

If you are having trouble sleeping, make changes to your routine to get the sleep you need. For example, try to:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule
  • Stay away from caffeine in the afternoon
  • Take a hot bath before bed to relax

How can I tell if I have a sleep disorder?
Signs of a sleep disorder can include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Sleepiness during the day that makes it difficult to do tasks like driving a car
  • Frequent loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing or gasping while sleeping
  • Pain or itchy feelings in your legs or arms at night that feel better when you move or massage the area

If you have any of these signs, talk to a doctor or nurse. You may need to be tested or treated for a sleep disorder.

To learn more about sleep disorders:

Take Action!

Take Action!

Making small changes to your daily routine can help you get the sleep you need.

Change what you do during the day.

  • Exercise earlier in the day, not right before you go to bed.
  • Stay away from caffeine (including coffee, tea, and soda) late in the day.
  • If you have trouble sleeping at night, limit daytime naps to 20 minutes or less.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men. Alcohol can keep you from sleeping soundly.
  • Don’t eat a big meal close to bedtime.
  • Quit smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes can make it harder for you to sleep.

Create a good sleep environment.

  • Make sure your bedroom is dark. If there are street lights near your window, try putting up light-blocking curtains.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet.
  • Consider keeping electronic devices like TVs and computers out of the bedroom.

Set a bedtime routine.

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Get the same amount of sleep each night.
  • Avoid eating, talking on the phone, reading, or watching TV in bed.
  • Try not to lie in bed worrying about things. Check out these tips to help manage stress.

If you are still awake after staying in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up. Do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

Check out these other tips on getting a good night’s sleep.

If you are concerned about your sleep, see a doctor.
Talk with a doctor or nurse if you have any of the following signs of a sleep disorder:

  • Frequent, loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Trouble waking up in the morning
  • Pain or itchy feelings in your legs or arms at night that feel better when you move or massage the area
  • Trouble staying awake during the day

Even if you aren’t aware of problems like these, talk with a doctor if you feel like you often have trouble sleeping.

Keep a sleep diary for a week and share it with your doctor. A doctor can suggest different sleep routines or medicines to treat sleep disorders. Talk with a doctor before trying over-the-counter sleep medicine.

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