Many people remark that it’s a shame there are only 24 hours in a day. This comment is often made when someone has way too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in. Instead of cutting back on their workload or canceling plans with their friends, many people in this situation decide to sacrifice sleep in order to add more time to their day. They may even reassure themselves that they are capable of getting by with fewer hours of sleep per night than others. But, is it true? How many hours of sleep do you really need? Here’s what you need to know:
The True Definition of the Amount of Sleep You Need
It’s important to understand the difference between the amount of sleep that your body needs and the amount of sleep that you can get by with. It’s perfectly normal for an adult to get by with six or seven hours of sleep per night--sometimes even less. But, being able to function after a few hours of sleep does not mean that your body only needs a few hours of sleep every night to survive. You need more sleep in order to perform at your best. The goal is sleeping enough to thrive, not just to survive.
Average Hours of Sleep Needed By Age Range
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average amount of sleep that you need depends on a number of factors, but mainly your age. Newborn babies need more sleep than people of other ages. It is recommended that newborns get between 14-17 hours per night, but once they reach four months old, they only need between 12-15 hours. Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 years old need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep, whereas children that are 3 to 5 years old need about 10 to 13 hours every night. The recommended number of hours per sleep continues to decline as children grow older. By the time they are teenagers, they only need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night.
The decline in the recommended hours of sleep per night stops at the age of 18. At this age, the average adult needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This is the recommendation for all adults that are between the ages of 18 and 64. However, adults that are 65 and over can perform at their best with between 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
Of course, there are times where people will need more sleep than usual. For example, an adult who is recovering from an illness will need to get more sleep than usual in order to help their body rest and repair itself.
Some adults also have a gene that enables them to perform at their best with fewer hours of sleep. The gene was discovered by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, but it is only found in about 3% of adults, making it extremely rare.
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
The guidelines provided by the National Sleep Foundation are solely recommendations. It’s important for everyone to figure out on their own how many hours of sleep they need per night in order to look and feel their best. But, this is easier said than done.
Many people are so used to not getting enough sleep that they aren’t sure how they are supposed to feel when they are well-rested. People who are getting enough sleep typically feel energized throughout the day. They do not experience extreme fluctuations in their energy levels at various points in the day unless they are engaging in a lot of physical activity. This means no mid-afternoon slumps, yawning through dinner, or dozing off in the middle of a business meeting.
The best way to determine how many hours of sleep your body needs is through trial and error. Keep a diary so you can record the number of hours you sleep every night and the way you feel the next day. Use the National Sleep Foundation guidelines as a starting point. For example, if you are an adult, the guidelines recommend getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This means you should start by sleeping 7 hours, then 8 hours, and then 9 hours of sleep. Record how you feel throughout the day and then revisit these notes later on to determine when you felt your best. If you felt best after sleeping 8 hours, this could indicate that this is the right amount of sleep for your body.
How to Get the Sleep You Need to Thrive
So, you’ve figured out how many hours of sleep you need to thrive in your personal and professional life. Now what? Make an effort to actually get the sleep your body needs. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and other foods and beverages that could affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. You should also establish a regular sleep schedule and then stick to it. This ensures your body knows what time you want to go to sleep and what time you want to wake up. If your body has this information, it can provide you with the hormones that you need to drift off to sleep.
Give your body time to get used to your new sleep schedule. Don’t be afraid to turn to sleep supplements such as Som Sleep if your body needs a little help adjusting to these changes. Som Sleep is a liquid sleep supplement that contains melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Sipping on this about 30 minutes before bed can make it easier for you to finally get the sleep you so desperately need!