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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Brindley

How Much Sleep Do I Really Need?

Woman with her head down sitting on a bed

Think you can get by on four or five hours of sleep a night? You're not alone. Many people believe they can function just fine on limited sleep.

However, science has shown that too little sleep can severely affect your body and mind.

If you find yourself regularly not getting enough sleep or frequently waking up during the night, you may be dealing with insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

If this is a regular occurrence for you, then you may be wondering how much sleep you really need. Luckily, scientists have done the research and can give us an answer.

The Ideal Amount of Sleep For An Adult?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults aged 18-64 years old get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping more than 9 hours per night or less than six can be harmful to your health.

Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. During sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues supports immune system function, processes information and memories, and regulates energy use and appetite.

If you regularly need more than 8 hours of sleep, it could be a sign that you're not getting enough quality sleep. Many factors can influence the quality of your sleep, including stress, medications, and underlying health conditions.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body

If you're not getting enough sleep, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause fatigue, irritability, mood swings, increased anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.

Not getting enough sleep can also make you more likely to get sick. When you don't get enough sleep, your immune system doesn't function as well. This makes it more difficult for your body to fight off viruses and other infections.

In the long term, sleep deprivation can increase your risk of chronic conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It can also contribute to mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

How Some People Can Function on Less Sleep

Some people naturally require less sleep than others. This is a genetic predisposition towards being a "short-sleeper."

Studies have shown that short-sleepers tend to have a different genetic makeup than people who need the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Short sleepers typically have a higher tolerance for sleep deprivation and can function relatively well on limited sleep.

However, this doesn't mean it's healthy for them to skimp on sleep. Even short-sleepers need to get enough quality sleep to maintain their health.

Some people need less sleep than others because their body clock or "circadian rhythm" is slower. This means that their body takes longer to transition from being awake to being asleep.

People with slower circadian rhythms may not feel tired until later at night. As a result, they may go to bed later and sleep for fewer hours than people with faster circadian rhythms.

Can You Actually Train Your Body To Need Less Sleep?

Skimping on sleep is a recipe for disaster. Your body and mind need sleep to function properly. You can't train your body to need less sleep.

Trying to get by on less sleep can lead to a number of health problems down the line. It's important to ensure you get quality sleep each night.

The best way to ensure good sleep hygiene is to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

This will help keep your body's natural sleep rhythm in check.

Creating a relaxing bedtime routine with winding-down activities like reading or taking a bath can also help you fall asleep more easily.

Make sure to avoid screens (phones, laptops) in the hour leading up to bedtime as the blue light can interfere with your's sleep signals.

Nap Time: Good or Bad for Insomnia?

Napping during the day can be a good way to make up for lost sleep. However, napping may not be the best solution for insomnia.

For some people with insomnia, napping can lead to more fragmented sleep and actually make it harder to fall asleep at night. Napping during the day can also make it difficult to stay awake during activities in the evening.

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you may want to avoid naps or limit them to no longer than 30 minutes. You may also want to try other sleep hygiene measures, such as avoiding caffeine late in the day and establishing a regular sleep schedule.

The Best Sleep Schedule For Adults

Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. The best time to sleep for adults is from 10 pm to 11 pm. Research has shown that people who sleep from 10 pm to 11 pm have increased alertness and productivity the next day.

You can count backward from when you need to wake up in the morning to find out what time you should go to bed. For example, if you need to wake up at 6:30 am, you should go to bed at 10:30 pm.

Falling asleep from 10 pm to 11 pm is also good for heart health. A study showed that people who sleep during these hours have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

It is important to wake up at the same time every day. Sleeping late on the weekends may feel good, but do not deviate from your regular wake-up time by more than thirty minutes.


Sleep is an important part of overall health. Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night.

To get good sleep, stick to a regular sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Napping during the day may not be the best solution for insomnia.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try avoiding caffeine late in the day and establish a regular sleep schedule. You should also avoid screens in the hour leading up to bedtime as the blue light can interfere with your sleep signals.


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