The Amount of Sleep You Need

Final Draft

Eight. Seven. The magic number is eight. How much sleep is enough sleep? It’s a commonly asked question: how long should I sleep? “We’ve heard the magic number 8,” says Sumathi Reddy of the Wall Street Journal, “but experts are working to come up with a more refined, evidence-based answer.” How much sleep is the perfect amount of sleep? The number eight is the standard for a healthy sleeping routine. When really the amount of sleep someone needs, varies person to person.

Dr. Michael J. Breus from the Huffington Post commented: “Although eight hours is the number most often associated with a full night’s sleep, sleep experts know that there is some degree of variation when it comes to individual sleep needs.” Then there are some people who say the magic number is seven and not eight as everyone had believed. “Several sleep studies have found that seven hours is the optimal amount of sleep,” Reddy explains in her article, “Although many doctors question that conclusion.”

Sleep needs vary across different ages and are also impacted differently by lifestyle. Dr. Dongen, a sleep expert, in an interview with Julia Belluz on Vox shares that having eight hours or more of sleep has been shown to be hazardous. So, then the number of hours for sleep has been changed to seven? Although the number has always been eight, but getting eight or more hours of sleep is dangerous! Which is it?

Sleep experts find it to be very tricky, if not misleading, to tell people a certain number to sleep that may or may not be best for them. WebMD agrees with the National Sleep Association stating: “The amount of sleep needed to function the next day varies from individual to individual.”

Knowing that sleep varies from individual to individual, suggests that the seven to eight-hour model may not be ideal sleep time for everyone. Experts advise patients to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night, to evaluate how they feel afterwards and that once they evaluate how they feel. They should then adjust the amount of sleep they would like to get from there. Do they function better with six hours of sleep or seven? Or do they function better with seven then six?

Reddy has a specific recommendation on how to achieve that perfect amount of sleep. She states “Experts say people should be able to figure out their optimal amount of sleep in a trial of three days to a week, ideally while on vacation.” How you can do that is to not use an alarm clock. Go to sleep when you are tired. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and stay off electronic devices a couple of hours before going to bed. During this trial period, track your sleep with something that records your actual sleep time. You know your perfect sleep time if you wake up feeling refreshed and awake during the day.

This recommendation is meant to help guide someone to find their perfect sleep state. It will change over time, because your lifestyle will change. The amount of sleep someone gets declines as they get older. Kids sleep more than adults and the amount of sleep adults get has been declining over the past few years. The older the person gets the more or less sleep they will need. There will never be a firmly set sleep duration number.

Once one has found the perfect sleep time, it is also important to practice good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene includes consistent bed times and wake times. Sleep in a dark and cool environment and have some quiet time away from bright lights and electronics an hour before going to sleep. Create a sleep-friendly environment and routine. Also give yourself plenty of time for rest. Eventually your body will tell you a great deal about how much sleep you need.

In the end, Dr. Breus says: “The right amount of sleep is always going to be personal and individual determination.” The most important information in determining your sleep needs is what your body and mind is telling you. Pay attention to how much and how well you’re sleeping at night. Also pay attention to how you feel during the day. There is no magic sleep number. Just a number unique to your sleep routine as unique as you.