How much sleep do I need?

Published December 5, 2014

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Woman sleeping

Do you need eight hours sleep just to function but your partner can thrive on five? That’s because there is no magic number when it comes to adequate sleeping time. Sleep needs are individual just like other characteristics you’re born with and can also be affected by lifestyle and health factors. For many healthy adults seven‐nine hours is enough sleep to function at their best.1

However, it’s important to assess how you feel throughout the day on different amounts of sleep to find what ‘number’ works for you. If you’re meeting your sleep needs, you’ll feel refreshed when you wake up, and energetic and alert all day long. If you need to hit the snooze button multiple times in the morning or rely on caffeine to get you through the day, then you may be sleep deprived.

Basal sleep needs and sleep debt

Basal sleep is the amount of sleep our bodies require on a regular basis for optimal performance. When working out how much sleep is right for you, in addition to basal sleep, ‘sleep debt’ also needs to be factored in.2 Sleep debt occurs when we have too little sleep due to poor sleeping habits, illness or other causes. Eventually your body will demand that the debt is paid.

As a result, while you might be meeting your basal sleep needs on any single night or a few nights in a row, you may still have an unresolved sleep debt that’s taking a toll on your body and mind, making you sleepy or less alert at times. To make up for lost sleep, try getting an hour or two of extra sleep each night and even more on weekends.1It could take a number of weeks to recoup your losses.

Once you’ve established how much sleep you really need each night, avoid regarding it as a luxury, and factor it into your daily schedule. In turn, you’ll feel happier, healthier and more productive each day.

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