It’s a common question. How much sleep do you need? Sleep requirements, like nutrition and exercise, are a very individual thing. Are you wondering exactly how much sleep you need to feel your best? Here is how to work it out.
The evidence and the research about what constitutes the ideal sleep duration can be confusing. That’s because the results of any study can only be an average of the group that has been studied. If everyone in the group subsequently slept this calculated average, it’s very likely that they would not get the right amount of sleep for their own optimal well being.
If you look at the research, anything from between 6 hours to 9 hours is an adequate amount of sleep. For some people, anything longer than 6 or 6.5 hours a night is not necessary. For others – like myself – anything less than 9 hours is not enough.
Optimal sleep quantity sits on a bell curve. Anything less than 6 hours, and your health and mental function declines, and anything over 8 to 9 hours has the same effect. The ideal amount of time spent asleep therefore seems to sit somewhere between 6 and 8 hours. But that differs from person to person.
If you want to know how many hours you should be asleep to wake up on top of the world, try this.
Say you usually wake up to an alarm, and the alarm is set for 6 am. If that wakes you up from a good slumber, you’re not getting enough sleep. Getting jolted out of a lovely dream by an annoying alarm happens to a lot of people. How would you like to wake up naturally – and fully refreshed – before the alarm has a chance to interrupt your sleep cycle?
There is a simple method which lets you establish just how many hours of sleep you really need. Say your alarm wakes you up at 6 am, and you go to bed at 11 pm. Simply change your bed time to half an hour earlier, at 10.30 pm. Don’t be too disappointed if for the first night or two, you won’t be able to fall asleep very easily half an hour earlier. Habits take time to change. When you do fall asleep at 10.30 pm, and your alarm still wakes you up in the morning, move your bedtime forward another half hour. Continue this until you have found the best time to go to sleep that lets you wake up naturally before the alarm rings.
Remember that a full sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. The right amount of sleep you need will likely be a multiple of 90 minute cycles. Most people go through about 5 full sleep cycles a night, that is 7.5 hours. Some do fine on 4 cycles = 6 hours sleep, others need 6 cycles = 9 hours sleep a night.
Your optimal amount of sleep is the number of hours you need to fall asleep easily at night, and wake up in the morning refreshed and energized. There is no better feeling in the world than waking up, savoring the morning and looking forward to the day to come.