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Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

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Have trouble sleeping? If so, you’re not alone. At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and another 20 million have occasional problems. Many more (including me) just don’t seem to find enough hours in the day and night to get adequate sleep.

Lack of sleep has been linked to a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Sleep deprivation can also affect alertness and reflexes. And that can be lethal—tired drivers cause an estimated 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1,500 vehicle-related deaths each year.

So, how much sleep do you really need? While there’s a lot of individual variation based on age, health status, and genetic factors, average daily sleep needs are:

Babies 16 to 18 hours
Preschoolers 11 to 12 hours
School-age children 10 hours
Teens  9 to 10 hours
Adults 7 to 8 hours

And a special note for expectant parents: women often need several extra hours of sleep during the first three months of pregnancy.

If you’d like to test your sleep I.Q., check out this online quiz.

And visit the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to learn more about sleep, and what NIH research is doing to better understand its effects on health and behavior.

Image via Glovatskiy/Shutterstock.com

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In that role he oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH from 1993-2008.

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