*Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. Seek the guidance of a physician if you have any questions.*
An age old question that nearly every adult asks themselves at one point - exactly how much sleep do you need every night? For those that can’t manage to get up before 10AM every morning, to those that struggle to get even a couple hours of sleep, it’s always an anxiety-causing issue when thinking about just how much sleep you actually need every night. Though everyone’s heard the equally old answer, “8 hours a night!”, that doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. The world is made of countless human beings with different biological systems. Though there may be an easy answer we’ve all read, that’s not necessarily the most accurate one. So before we delve into exactly how many hours you might need let’s discuss the factors at play.
Age, nutrition and weight are all factors when it comes to getting enough sleep every night! Athletes tend to sleep for hours longer than your typical 9-5 worker; people who work during the day and sleep at night typically get more sleep than those that do the opposite. Though there may be an easy answer for how many hours an adult should try to sleep every night, that doesn’t mean it’s the right answer for everyone, and the costs can be extreme. Exhaustion can be a huge problem for those that don’t get enough sleep, and it can lead to a myriad of other issues. That’s why it’s important to take your schedule, health and occupation into account when trying to get the correct amount of sleep. Now, let’s talk about how those issues reflect how many hours of sleep each specific person should get.
Getting The Right Amount Of Hours
To many, it won’t be a surprise that our bodies require less sleep as we get older. For the many families around the world, newborns can be troublesome, but they do sleep around 15-18 hours a day on average. This is absolutely necessary for their development, but it should also explain why humans just naturally get less and less sleep. Over the years, a child will end up sleeping less than an infant. A teenager will sleep less than a child; a young adult will slightly more than the average adult and when we hit 26-years-old, we end up averaging around 5-9 hours of sleep a night.
But is that how much sleep we actually need? The truth is a little more complicated than it seems at first glance. There’s a reason doctors around the world have recommended 7-8 hours of sleep for nearly every adult for the last 50 years. Studies have shown that’s the appropriate and most replenishing amount of time for an adult to sleep. When schedules or occupations change the factors of a person’s life, this will inevitably play a role in how much sleep they have. Many famous athletes sleep 10-12 hours a night while they’re competing; many adults sleep this much on the average weekend.
So what exactly is the right answer? Well, the hours we need each night might be obvious, but it’s actually the kind of sleep that plays a role in how much rest our bodies actually receive each night.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
REM is a kind of deep sleep that’s particularly important to the human body. Helping our minds to get the very same much-needed rest that our bodies need. As we mentioned, people with labor-intensive jobs or athletes will require hours more sleep than those that live less laborious lives. That being said, there are countless people around the world that supplement their nighttime or end-of-the-day sleeping with napping! After morning exercises, between important or lengthy shifts, before important tests or exams, there are numerous instances where napping can help regulate a person’s sleep pattern.
Drowsiness is the number one indicator that you’re in need of more sleep, it’s that simple. There is a small percentage of the population, around 20%, who will only require around 4 hours of sleep a night! That’s not average, and it’s certainly not something to try unless you’re sure of your own body and its needs. Pretty much every bodily function can be impaired by not getting enough sleep. You can hallucinate, get fatigued, get headaches, suffer from memory issues, or suffer from countless other problems that all stem from a problem with a simple and obvious solution - get more sleep!
A Restful Amount of Sleep for Everyone
So let’s break down what we’ve gone over so far. First of all, the amount of hours a person requires each night gets less and less as we get older. An infant and baby will sleep most of the day while the average adult will get anywhere from 5-9 hours a night, while needing about 7-8 hours a night. Considering how many life factors there are that can alter a person’s needs or schedule, that number may differ among different groups. People who sleep during the day after working at night get less sleep on average than those that work during the day and sleep at night. Athletes and those with jobs that require physical labor will sleep around 3-4 hours a night more than those that work desk or computer-based jobs.
However, you should follow the signs to see if you do need more sleep. Do you feel exhausted when you wake up in the morning? Are headaches, muscle aches or fatigue something you encounter in your day-to-day routine? Do you find yourself falling asleep during your favorite shows or books? If so, then it’s time to consider changing your sleep pattern. Better sleep schedules, a bedtime, an alarm, or even daytime napping are all solutions that can help to improve a troublesome or debilitating sleep pattern.