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Get Enough Sleep

woman sleeping

Content last updated on:
February 21, 2014

The Basics

Everyone needs to sleep. A good night’s sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy.

How much sleep do I need?
Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you are having trouble sleeping, make changes to your routine to get the sleep you 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 sleep between 11 and 12 hours a day.
  • Newborns sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day.

Why is getting enough sleep important?
Getting a good night’s sleep can have many benefits.

  • You will be less likely to get sick.
  • You will be more likely to stay at a healthy weight.
  • You can lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • You can boost your brainpower and your mood.
  • You can think more clearly and do better in school and at work.
  • You can make better decisions and avoid injuries. For example, sleepy drivers cause thousands of car crashes every year.

Does it matter when I sleep?
Yes. We have a natural cycle for when we feel tired and awake. Sunlight plays a big role in this cycle.

Our “biological clocks” are set to make us feel the most sleepy between midnight and 7 a.m. Our biological clocks also help us stay alert during the day, although many people have a sleepy period between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

When people have to work during the night, they can have trouble getting enough sleep during the day. People who travel to a different time zone 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
  • Some medicines
  • Caffeine (in chocolate, drinks like coffee, and in some medicines)
  • 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!

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 drinks and foods with caffeine (like coffee, tea, soda, or chocolate) late in the day.
  • If you have trouble sleeping at night, limit daytime naps to less than 1 hour.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. This means no more than 1 drink a day for women or 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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