Some people only get 4 hours of sleep every night and they feel fine. Others can sleep for 9 hours and still feel tired in the morning. It can be difficult to say how much sleep a person needs every night because individual biology plays a role in what is needed.
For the average adult between the ages of 18-55, the recommended amount of sleep that is needed is 7-9 hours. Older adults are recommended to receive 7-8 hours, while newborns may benefit from up to 17 hours of sleep daily.
Recommendations are fine, but in reality, there are going to be days when we all might be lucky to get 4 hours of sleep. There are also different factors that may influence the amount of sleep that may be needed.
What Affects the Amount of Sleep That is Needed?
If you have been sleep-deprived, then the amount of sleep that you are going to need will increase. Expect the amount of sleep required to increase by up to 30% each night until the sleep deficit is eliminated.
Here are some of the other factors that can influence the amount of sleep that may be needed for some individuals.
- Although the maximum range of sleep is reduced by 1 hour for older adults, it tends to be cumulative sleep instead of consecutive sleep. Older adults tend to sleep lightly and for shorter periods of time compared to younger adults.
- The changes that occur within a woman’s body during the early stages of pregnancy will increase the need for sleep.
- When someone experiences frequent interruptions while sleeping, then it is impossible to have high-quality sleep. Quantity is important, but so is quality.
Even though some people report that they can function well with only a few hours of sleep every night, research indicates their performance will be affected. People with chronic sleep deficits do not perform as well on complex mental tasks compared to people who receive at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
Can Sleeping Too Long Be Harmful to My Health?
In a study that was completed over the course of 20 years, sleeping logs from those being tracked were evaluated to find links between population groups. It was discovered that people who sleep an average of 7 hours per night were living longer in the study group compared to those who slept for 8+ hours every night.
With a similar study that focused on women who were 70 years of age or older, a virtually exact conclusion was found. It was just as harmful to people to get 9+ hours of sleep every day as it was to receive 5 hours or less of sleep.
For the average adult, mental performance peaks when individuals can achieve 7 hours of sleep on consecutive nights on a regular basis. More sleep causes that performance to begin declining, just as performance declines when 6 hours of sleep or less are obtained.
Troubled sleepers are an exception to this rule. If you are experiencing insomnia because of SAD or frequent waking episodes because of a condition like obstructive sleep apnea, then it makes sense to restrict sleep in some instances. Longer times in bed can enhance sleep fragmentation in these incidents.
How Can I Figure Out the Amount of Sleep I Need?
When you’re stuck in the middle of your daily routine, it can be difficult to gauge how much sleep you really need. Worries about work, your family, or what you see on the news can cause your brain to keep you awake at night. Judging your quality of sleep based on these triggers can lead you toward false conclusions.
It is better to look at your sleeping patterns when you’re able to take a vacation. Go to bed around the same time each night and then wake up without an alarm clock during your time away from home.
After you get a full week of going to bed at the same time and being able to sleep in for as long as you want, your circadian rhythms will establish themselves. This will help you land on the right amount of time you need for sleep. In most cases, it will be somewhere between 7-9 hours.
If you find yourself sleeping 8-9 hours every day without feeling tired, then don’t try to reduce the amount of sleep you receive.
People who are highly active will tend to need more sleep than the general population. Extra sleep will help with protein synthesis, which encourages tissue repair and body restoration after a workout or strenuous activity.
How to Change Your Sleep Patterns for More Sleep
Most people need to get more sleep instead of less. Changing your habits to get that extra hour or two every night can be difficult. You need tools to help you restore balance to your natural rhythms. This is where a sunrise alarm can be extremely beneficial.
By simulating a sunrise, you can create the same sleeping effects as if you were on vacation. Your body wakes up naturally instead of suddenly, which allows it to prepare for the day.
Having a bedtime routine that is relaxing will also help to support a balanced pattern of sleep. Avoid using any electronic devices that cast blue light in the final hour before you go to bed. If you do need to use devices, consider wearing glasses that can block blue light from stimulating your eyes and brain.
It can also be helpful to avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed. Some medications may also disrupt sleep.
There really is no way to reduce the amount of sleep that you need to get every night. The necessities of sleep are often dependent on your personal genetics. That means some people can get by with less, while others are going to need a little more.
By focusing on quality and quantity, you can make sure your routines are balanced. This will help you establish healthy sleeping habits that can benefit you for years to come.