How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get a Night?
Everyone has heard the rule that people need 8 hours of sleep every night to function properly during their waking hours. However, 8 hours may not work for everyone.
How Many Hours of Sleep do People Actually Need?
The need for sleep is actually determined by genetics and age. Different ages require specific amounts of sleep because of their body function and activity levels. Smaller children need more sleep because their bodies are still developing and growing with constant changes and they need the extra rest.
These are the recommended amounts of sleep for people based on their ages. (1)
Newborns: 14-17 hours
Infants: 12-15 hours
Toddlers: 11-14 hours
3-5 years: 10-13 hours
6-12 years: 9-11 hours
Teenagers: 8-10 hours
Adults: 7-9 hours
65 years and older: 7-8 hours
There are some very rare exceptions where a certain type of person may need only 6 hours of sleep, but again, this is extremely rare.
What Happens When People do Not Get Enough Sleep?
Sleep gives humans the rest they require so their bodies may recharge and work well the next day.
Losing sleep can cause all sorts of negative side effects: mood swings, impaired driving, shortened memory, exhaustion, and weight gain.
Some people may think they have trained their body to work on less sleep, but in reality, they have just trained themselves to go throughout their days performing at a lower level than they would have had they gotten their recommended amount of sleep.
A study conducted in 2020 proved sleep deprivation leads to workplace errors. Some errors if done in high-risk jobs can cause serious negative repercussions. (2) Just think about how quickly our society would crumble if people working on power lines or plumbing systems made constant workplace errors because they were too sleepy.
Getting a good night’s sleep is more important than most people think.
What is Sleep Debt?
Sleep debt is the difference between the sleep you get and the sleep you should get. Say you should be getting 8 hours and you only got 6, then you have 2 hours of sleep debt. (3)
This debt of time does not just go away. If you accumulate sleep debt every day for a week, then you will need to sleep extra on the weekend so your body can reach its natural equilibrium again. Anyone with sleep debt needs to make up this time and find extra time to sleep.
How do I Know How Much Sleep I Need?
The first step in discovering the amount of sleep your body needs is to erase the sleep debt. Take naps, sleep in, or go to bed early until you feel your body has completely rested and caught up on the sleep you have missed. (4) This could take a few weeks to accomplish so be patient and listen to what your body is telling you.
Set aside several days, many people find this is easiest to do when taking a vacation, to allow for long sleep periods. Go to bed at a consistent time and then let your body wake up naturally. After several days, the body should regulate and start waking up at the same time thus indicating exactly how many hours of sleep a person needs. (5) Adjust your daily schedule so that you can achieve your new sleep goals everyday.
Another way to see what the body needs is to keep a daily sleep diary. Record sleep times, and the number of times you wake up in the night. Write down naps you take and times you feel drowsy during the day. You will begin to see patterns. On days where you got enough sleep you will notice less moments of drowsiness during the day. Once you have determined the proper amount of sleep you need, adjust your schedule accordingly.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Your sleep is crucial to your level of performance throughout the day. Many people think of sleep as an inconvenience that takes time away from accomplishing goals or having fun, but sleep is extremely important for human life.
Prioritize your sleep and prepare yourself so you can sleep better. Darken your bedroom, listen to white noise, get an EMF protection device, or take melatonin supplements before bed. Whatever the method, take the time and make the effort to find out what sleep schedule you need and then make it a part of your daily schedule.