How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Woman sleeping how much sleep

For many of us, sleep is a commodity—and we can never get enough of it. If you’re like most, you can’t help spending an extra fifteen minutes scrolling through your social media feeds when you know you should turn off the lights and go to bed. Couple that with a morning routine that has you waking up early to get your kids ready for school and commute to work, all before 8 a.m., and most days, you’re left feeling sluggish and foggy before you get to your 11 a.m. staff meeting.

How much sleep do you really need every night? We all hear stories of billionaire entrepreneurs who claim only to need (need) three hours of sleep every night, but is such little sleep realistic or healthy? How can you tell what your personal, optimal amount of sleep is, and more importantly, how can you get it? We’ve got the 411 on all the Zzzs.

How Much Sleep Do You Need at Night?

The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep at night, but according to the National Institutes of Health, is only getting seven. The difference between how much sleep you get and how much you need is critical because the amount of sleep you can get by on is not the same as the amount of sleep you need for optimal health and wellness.

Age Matters

It is important to note that throughout your life, the amount of sleep you will need will fluctuate. Consider the following recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation:

Average Sleep Needs by Age

AgeHours NeededMay be appropriate
Newborn to 3 months old14 – 17 hrs11 – 19 hrs
4 to 11 months old12 – 15 hrs10 – 18 hrs
1 to 2 years old11 – 14 hrs9 – 16 hrs
3 to 5 years old10 – 13 hrs8 – 14 hrs
6 to 13 years old9 – 11 hrs7 – 12 hrs
14 to 17 years old8 – 10 hrs7 – 11 hrs
18 to 25 years old7 – 9 hrs6 – 11 hrs
26 to 64 years old7 – 9 hrs6 – 10 hrs
65+ years old7 – 8 hrs5 – 9 hrs

Can You Get Too Much Sleep?

If you believe you may be suffering from the opposite issue—obtaining too much sleep every night—know that you can overdo it. New research shows that sleeping too much may be linked with health hazards that include:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Increased inflammation
  • Increased pain
  • Impaired fertility
  • Higher risk of obesity
  • Higher risk of diabetes
  • Higher risk of heart disease
  • Higher risk of stroke
  • Higher all-cause mortality

How to Find Your Sleep Sweet Spot

Since the amount of sleep that you need every night is individualized, to determine if you are getting an optimal amount of nightly rest, keep a sleep journal for a few months. Document what time you went to bed and what time you woke up, and assess you how you feel the next day. If you are getting optimal rest, you will feel energized and mentally acute. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you will feel low-energy and mentally fuzzy.

If you already know you need to commit to longer nights’ sleep, click here for tips on healthy sleeping habits you can start today.

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