How many Hours of Sleep do You Really Need?

Whether you’re scrambling to meet the demands of a busy schedule or just finding it hard to sleep at night, getting by on less sleep may seem like the only answer. But even minimal sleep loss can take a substantial toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress, and in the long run, chronic sleep loss can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. By understanding your nightly sleep needs and how to bounce back from sleep loss, you can finally get on a healthy sleep schedule and improve the quality of your waking life.

Why is sleep so important?

The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

Sleep isn’t merely a time when your body shuts off. While you rest, your brain stays busy, overseeing biological maintenance that keeps your body running in top condition and preparing you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at a level even close to your true potential. Regularly skimp on “service” and you’re headed for a major mental and physical breakdown.

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between health and productivity. By addressing any sleep problems and making time to get the sleep you need each night, your energy, efficiency, and overall health will go up. In fact, you’ll likely get much more done during the day than if you were losing out on shuteye in an attempt to work longer.

Lastly, sleep plays an important role in regulating your circadian rhythm, or internal clock.

This inner clock runs on an approximately 24-hour schedule and regulates when you feel awake and sleepy. It may also help regulate things like metabolism, immune function, and inflammation.

Not sleeping long enough, sleeping at odd times of the day and exposure to bright light at night may throw off this inner clock and the many processes it regulates.

While you may think you’re getting ample rest, not all sleep is created equal. Not only is it important to get enough each night, but it’s also important to get good-quality sleep.

There is no universal definition for sleep quality, but it may be defined as how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up during the night, how rested you feel the next day or how much time you spend in different stages of sleep.

Because good sleep is necessary to so many aspects of good health, you should make getting enough each night a high priority.

How many hours of sleep do you need?

There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. According to researches, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.

Just because you’re able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed.

Studies identify the ideal amount of time a person needs to sleep according to their age.

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more. And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least 7 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

A summary of new recommendations includes:

Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)

Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)

Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)

Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)

School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)

Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)

Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)

Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours

Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

Do women need more sleep than men?

According to one particular study, they do. There are a number of reasons, but the prevailing theory is that during the day, women’s brains work harder on average than men’s.

A female’s brain is more optimized for intuitive thinking, resulting in more multitasking during the day. This increased momentum can require more energy throughout the day, meaning it takes longer to wind it down at nighttime.

But how much more sleep do women need than men? The study showed that only 20 extra minutes on average is needed.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep affects your judgment, coordination, and reaction times and in fact, sleep deprivation can affect you just as much as being drunk.

The effects include:

–    Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation

–    Moodiness and irritability; increased risk of depression

–    Decreased sex drive; relationship problems

–    Impaired brain activity; learning, concentration, and memory problems

–    Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills; difficulty making decisions

–    Inability to cope with stress, difficulty managing emotions

–    Premature skin aging

–    Weakened immune system; frequent colds and infections; weight gain

–    Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents; hallucinations and delirium

–    Increased risk of serious health problems including stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers.

Signs that you are getting too much sleep

–    It takes you more than 1 hour to fall asleep

–    You regularly wake up before your alarm but still feel rested during the day

–    You have low energy during the day

–    You feel depressed, and may have hypersomnia

–    You experience weight gain from lack of activity

Tips for Better Sleep

Since quality is important, try to ensure you’re sleeping well all night.

Here are a few tips to improve the quality of sleep:

Follow a regular schedule: Going to bed at the same time each night helps regulate your inner clock. Following an irregular sleep schedule has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration.

Create a calming bedtime routine: Adopting a relaxing routine before bed can help you get in the mood to sleep. For example, listening to calming music has been shown to help improve sleep quality in certain groups.

Buy a new mattress: If you’re sleeping plenty of hours, but fear you’re not getting quality sleep, assess your surroundings. If you aren’t sleeping comfortably, it could be time to replace your mattress. There’s no questioning the importance of sleep for our overall health and the fact that prioritizing it will benefit you in the long run.

Create a comfortable environment: Sleeping in a quiet, dark room at a comfortable temperature can help you sleep better. Being too active before bed, too warm or in a noisy environment is linked to poor sleep.

Minimize caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine: Studies have linked caffeine, alcohol and nicotine use to poorer sleep quality. Try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.

Reduce your use of electronics: The excessive use of cell phones and electronics has been associated with poor sleep quality. Even exposure to bright room lights before bed may negatively affect your sleep. Also, check out the WHISPER mattress which comes with electromagnetic waves (EMF) protection to shield you from the harmful devices while you sleep.

Be more active: Studies have shown that being inactive is associated with poorer sleep, and conversely, getting exercise during the day may help you sleep better at night.

Practice meditation: Meditation and relaxation training may help improve sleep quality and brain function, although research isn’t clear.

The Bottom Line

The amount of sleep you need varies for each person and is affected by several factors. However, for most adults, 7–9 hours per night is the ideal amount.

Pay attention to how you feel during the day to determine if you’re getting the right amount for you.

If you are sleeping enough, you should feel awake and energized during the day. If you find you are sluggish or often tired, you may need to sleep more.

To make the most out of bedtime, create good habits, such as minimizing your caffeine and alcohol intake, following a regular sleep schedule and creating a comfortable sleeping environment.


The WHISPER ensures you get the perfect amount and quality of sleep. We back this claim up with a 100 night risk-free trial. Click the link below to check it out: