Eight glasses of water a day, and eight hours of sleep. That’s what we’re all told to aim for. But how much sleep do you really need? And why can some people function on four hours, while some struggle on nine?
Why do we need to sleep?
We spend around a third of our lives asleep. Why so long? Because we need to fill up our energy reserves, repair cell damage, rest the mind, and implant memories from our day. In fact, we can only go about eight to 10 days without sleep – after that, a person is at serious risk of death.
Yep, that’s how serious sleep is. Of course, we all want to thrive – not just survive. So the question is – how much sleep do you need?
What happens if you sleep too little or too much?
Getting too much sleep – or not enough – seem to have similar drawbacks. In both cases, you may wind up depressed, anxious, fatigued, unable to concentrate and irritable. Over time, it’s possible to develop diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure.
That’s why it’s important to get the right amount of sleep for your mind and body. Sleep should leave you feeling refreshed and energised – not lethargic and tired.
How much sleep do you need?
A solid eight hours used to be the blanket recommendation. But the National Sleep Foundation in the US recently recruited 18 experts to dig through 320 research papers, in a bid to update its sleep recommendations.
The new sleep guidelines are:
- Children aged 6-9: nine to 11 hours sleep a night. Some may be fine with seven to eight hours.
- Teenagers: eight to 10 hours sleep a night. More than 11 hours could be bad for their health.
- Adults aged 18-64: seven to nine hours a night. Some may be OK with less.
- Adults aged over 65: seven to eight hours, although some do well on five hours sleep with day naps.
As you can see, there’s no solid number on how much sleep we should get. It all comes down to finding what works for you. Some people can sleep less than the recommended amount, but may have a better quality sleep.
So as with everything, see what makes the most sense for you. Sleep until you feel rested, restored and refreshed – ready to start the day.