How Much Sleep Do Moms Really Need?

How Much Sleep Do Moms Really Need?

A few days ago I was feeling really out of sorts. Grouchy, impatient, blurry-brained, wired, racing thoughts. And then I realized that my problem wasn’t that I was postpartum flipping out or borderline depressed or losing my mind.

My problem was simply that I was very, very TIRED.

So after I put my little kids to bed, I climbed into bed myself for about half an hour, and when I emerged from underneath my blanket, I felt like a different person. Energetic, relaxed, happy, clear-thinking.

So since that grouchy day, I have been trying to get to sleep half an hour earlier than usual But it is SO hard for me to get to sleep at a decent hour. Since it’s during that final hour of awake time that I enjoy my ME time: reading what I want to read, doing my Email chavruta, looking at interesting stuff people have forwarded to me.

But I’m working on getting more Zs. I really am…

So today I went to the website of The National Sleep Foundation in order find out how much sleep I am supposed to be getting. And I discovered that they only recommend the broad guidelines of 7 to 9 hours a night, since the need for sleep, they explain, is so incredibly individual.

Some moms function fine with 7 hours of sleep, and some moms need up to 9 hours in order to act and feel like a normal human beings. Factors like being pregnant or being woken up by babies/children in the middle of the night, or experiencing as elevated amounts of stress can also impact your need to sleep. Also, if, like many moms, you have a “sleep debt” or accumulated loss of sleep then that can also impact your need for sleep.

FYI, here are the recommended sleep guidelines of the National Sleep Foundation:
Newborns 0-2 months: 12-18 hours
Infants (3-11 months): 14-15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 years):12-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years): 11-13 hours*
School-age children (5-10 years):10-11 hours
Teens (10-17) 8.5-9.25 hours
Adults:7-9 hours

How much sleep do YOU need? Do you feel like you suffer from lack of sleep?

*3 year olds are mentioned twice. I’m also confused about what this means…

Photo courtesy of user National Media Museum


  1. Oy. I totally fail on this one! Those hours after lights out are so precious…I’m getting an average of about 5 hours a night…. on a good day! But I function the next day somehow because the ME time recharges my mental batteries. I really believe a strong soul will hold up the physical end of things but the opposite is not necessarily true…

  2. I’m (not) functioning on about 4-6 hrs.

  3. Whatever. I do fine on 6 hours, which of course are broken up every few hours for a bottle or nursing session for the baby and/or the 3 year old coming in for something or other:) Of course, I probably just THINK I do fine:)

  4. Forget how much sleep I need – someone needs to tell my children how much sleep they need!

    I find a nap in the early-mid evening works wonders – mine is not usually scheduled, it just happens while I’m waiting for someone else to fall asleep.

  5. 1-3 years = 12 months until they turn 3yrs
    3-5 years = from when they turn 3yrs until they turn 5yrs old
    5-10 years = from when they turn 5 until they turn 10.
    thats what it seems like to me

  6. I could have written this post. I have been SOOO off this week. It really comes down to desperatley needing more sleep — at night. Maybe I can make it happen — hope you can.

  7. I love that you included the guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation…thank you! Unfortuantely, like everyone else, it just goes to show that I’m functioning on WAAAY less than is ideal…

  8. Anonymous

    Chana, when you posted this a few years ago I didn’t know what to write – all I knew was that I was perpetually exhausted. I felt like gravity worked double on me, I just wanted to lie or sit down all the time and close my eyes. I slept more than my peers and was still tired. Now I know why. It wasn’t just pregnancy-nursing-kids waking up reasons.I was diagnosed this year with mild sleep apnea – I stop breathing during sleep. That puts my body into crisis mode each time, and so I was never rested. Now I sleep with a CPAP mask and I feel normal – clear-headed, not headachy,more energy. I’m not a dynamo – just normal. There is a lot more I can say. If someone needs more info, let me know. It really changed my quality of life.

    • to “Anonymous”, you probably will never see what I am gonna write here because you posted here on July 21, 2013 but I’m gonna give a go anyway. I think my husband has sleep apnea. We have been married less then 2 years. I have been taking notice in his sleep patterns for 5 months now but it’s kind of difficult because he rarely sleeps in one room every night, I mean, he doesn’t stay in one place. He gets up anywhere from 3 to 6 times a night and at times I can’t count as I am sleeping but I think I can hear him move from the bedroom floor to the living room. I have had to plan out to watch and listen to his sleep patterns. Anyway, I am not positive of what to watch for, but, it’s kind of common sense that when a person stops breathing for 20 seconds is probably part of sleep apnea. He has a Dr. appt and will require specialist if they suspect sleep apnea. Is there anything we can do here at home to help him sleep longer then 2 hours at a time. I also notice he is ALWAYS tired and very forgetful, like chronically. I also wonder when he seems to be on ‘program’ mode during waking hours. I really worry for him in driving. What other signs can I look for?

      • anonymous

        Hi Cheryl,
        There are doctors who are sleep specialists. First go to an ENT, who can check for physiological reasons for problematic sleep patterns. Your husband should probably be observed while sleeping. I went to a sleep lab in a hospital where I was hooked up to a computer that monitored my sleep patterns all night (REM, oxygen level, activity level, etc).
        Another sign would be waking up with an achy or heavy head. Also, snoring is a sign, but so is quiet sleep followed by rapid breathing. The quiet time is when he’s not breathing.
        Good luck!

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