How Much Sleep Do We Need? | News | Loyola Medicine
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How much sleep do we need?

Loyola researcher serves on National Sleep Foundation expert panel offering new guidelines

MAYWOOD, Il.  – Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researcher Lydia DonCarlos, PhD, is a member of an expert panel that’s making new recommendations on how much sleep people need.

The panel, convened by the National Sleep Foundation, is making its recommendations based on age, ranging from newborns (who need 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day) to adults aged 65 and up (7 to 8 hours per day).

In the new guidelines, there’s a wider range of what constitutes a good night’s sleep. For example, the expert panel recommends that teens (ages 14 to 17) get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. The previous guideline had a narrower recommended range of 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night.

Dr. DonCarlos and other experts on the multidisciplinary panel examined findings from 320 studies reporting sleep duration findings for healthy individuals, effects of reduced or prolonged sleep duration and health consequences of too much or too little sleep. Results are published in Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

“The process was very rigorous,” Dr. DonCarlos said. Dr. DonCarlos is a professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology at Stritch.

These are the sleep-time recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation expert panel:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously 12-18).
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously 14-15).
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously 12-14).
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously 11-13).
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously 10-11).
  • Teenagers  (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously 8.5-9.5).
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category).
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours.
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category).

The expert panel consists of 12 representatives, including Dr. DonCarlos, who were selected by medical organizations, and six sleep experts selected by the National Sleep Foundation. Dr. DonCarlos represents the American Association of Anatomists.

Dr. DonCarlos is a neuroendocrinologist who studies how hormones affect the structure of the brain. The section of the brain responsible for regulating hormone production is the hypothalamus. Hormones produced by the hypothalamus govern body temperature, hunger, stress responses, sex drive, circadian rhythms and sleep.

In addition to serving on the National Sleep Foundation expert panel, Dr. DonCarlos serves on the National Institutes of Health’s Neuroendocrinology, Neuroimmunology, Rhythms and Sleep (NNRS) study section, which reviews applications for research grants.

“We still have a great deal to learn about the function of sleep,” Dr. DonCarlos said. “We know it’s restorative and important for memory consolidation. But we don’t know the details of what the function of sleep is, even though it is how we spend one-third of our lives.”

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.