How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
When you’re tossing and turning in the night, staring at your alarm clock, you may start to wonder how much sleep you really need.
(And, a lot of the time you’re thinking about how little you’re going to get.)
We hate to break it to you, but you definitely need more sleep than just a quick catnap between your late-night shenanigans and the moment when your alarm goes off in the morning and reality hits. As for exactly how much sleep you need, that depends on several factors.
You didn’t think it would be an easy answer, did you? Let’s break it down.
What the experts say
The first thing you need to consider when figuring out how much sleep you actually need is your age. In general, we need less sleep as we get older.
Assuming you’re not a very advanced newborn who already knows how to read, you probably don’t need 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day.
Pictured: The genius baby reading this article who should get around 16 hours of sleep per day.
Research from the National Sleep Health Journal indicates that adults generally need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. Once you pass 65 years old, that recommendation goes down a bit to 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day.
Note: Like most guidelines for millions (or even billions) of people, there’s some room for variation here. You might need more or less sleep than that amount for a few different reasons.
Factors affecting how much sleep you need
Here are some other things to keep in mind when you’re trying to calculate your ideal sleep duration:
Sleep quality - The quantity of your sleep won’t matter much if the quality of your sleep is low. If you’re not getting enough deep sleep during the night, you’re probably going to need more sleep than usual to feel refreshed.
Napping - We’re all tempted to nap now and again, but if you do take advantage of a midday snooze, keep in mind that it can affect how much sleep you’ll need later that evening. The time you spend napping counts toward your daily 8 hours of sleep so you’ll have to factor any naps into your sleep time calculations.
*When the sleep hits
Interruptions to your sleep - Getting uninterrupted sleep is crucial. If you’re frequently waking up at night, you’ll need more sleep to feel rested. The next time you wake up in the middle of the night, try these tips for falling back to sleep.
Can you train yourself to need less sleep?
Everyone knows somebody who brags that they have “trained” their body to require less sleep. Maybe that person is you. Either way, the question remains: can you actually train yourself to need less sleep?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Definitely not. It’s a myth. And wishful thinking, probably.
Seriously, almost no one needs less than six hours of sleep per night according to Medical News Today.
We're putting these myths to bed today!
Even if you think you feel fine with just a few hours of sleep at night, it’s more likely that you’re just accustomed to the (negative) effects of limited sleep. You’re probably still sleep-deprived even if you don’t notice it.
Try to aim for the recommended amount of sleep for your age group and see if that makes a difference. It’s worth a shot.
Get better sleep
If you’ve read this far and are starting to think, “Uh-oh, I’m definitely not getting enough sleep at night,” don’t worry. We aren’t going to leave you hanging without some suggestions on how to make a change.
Start by implementing strong sleep hygiene practices.
You can also learn the dos and don'ts for getting a good night's sleep.
If you run into trouble even after trying those techniques, you can always try some gadgets that help you sleep.
The point is that you don’t need to despair. It’s possible to get better sleep, starting tonight. The change might not happen instantaneously, but there’s no time like the present to start working toward improving your sleep.
And as you embark on this better sleep journey, why not give yourself the gift of a luxurious new eucalyptus mattress to make sleeping even easier? Order yours here.
Isn't it beautiful? Think of the great times you two could have together.