If you’re supplementing your energy with caffeine-packed lattes, sodas, and energy drinks throughout the day, you belong to an alarming number of people who are chronically sleep deprived. Although an occasional night of good sleep may help you feel more alert the next day, repeat nights of getting too little sleep can take a toll on your health, mental sharpness, and more.
The American work ethic may glorify those who clock only four or five hours of sleep every night, but this habit is anything but healthy. (And no, “catching up” on the weekend does not actually fix the problem!) Getting the recommended hours of sleep each night may help you work better, faster, and more efficiently than your sleep-deprived partners.
The National Sleep Foundation offers a useful chart to show the ideal range of hours of sleep you need according to your age. FYI, there’s not one age group that should get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night!
Newborns, of course, need the most sleep: Those tiny bodies need an entire 13-17 hours of sleep a night! As children develop and mature, the sleep recommendations become shorter and shorter. A teenager, for example, needs between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night. Adults and the elderly need a little less: These age groups can handle as few as 7 hours of sleep a night.
Not reaching the recommended hours of sleep affects more than your coffee budget: poor sleep habits can lead to increased stress, irritability, overeating, and impaired judgment, not to mention those unattractive, dark undereye circles. (Too stressed to sleep well at night? These tips can help you wind down to get the amount of sleep your body needs.) While a great power nap in the afternoon can give a temporary energy boost, a full night’s rest is the only true way to prevent sleep deprivation.