How Much Sleep Do You Need: 5 Facts
Sleep is a universal requirement for humans – no matter how much energy you have; eventually, you’ll need to hit the pillow and get a few winks. However, not everyone needs the exact amount of sleep, and the classic “7 to 8 hours” rule isn’t always ideal.
So, just how much deep sleep do you need, and how can you tell? Today, let’s break down five facts about sleep and examine sleep needs in detail. We’ll also go over what factors can affect how much sleep you need each night.
Sleep Cycles Explained
The first fact is how sleep stages work, which you must understand before exploring how much sleep individuals need and how sleep requirements differ.
The typical human sleep cycle is about 90 minutes from start to finish. During a typical night of rest, you will proceed through several stages of sleep, which are marked by different levels of brain activity and bodily awareness.
At the beginning of the 90-minute sleep cycle, your brain enters a light phase of rest and quickly descends into a deeper sleep. During the first phase of your sleep cycle, you may enter REM or rapid eye movement sleep. During REM, this is where dreams may occur, and your brain will recharge.
Deep sleep occurs in the middle of the sleep cycle, anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes after first falling asleep. In this stage of the sleep cycle, your body regenerates itself, and your brain gets rid of potentially hazardous chemicals. Deep sleep is vital for long-term wellness and mental health, which is why taking short naps repeatedly throughout the day is no substitute for a full night's rest.
After hours of deep sleep, your body and mind gradually rise out of this slumber and enter light sleep or REM sleep again for another 15 to 20 minutes. Once this cycle finishes, the mind restarts the sleep cycle again over and over until it is fully rested or until you wake up.
Your body requires a certain amount of REM sleep and deep sleep to be fully rested and recharged each night. But not everyone needs the same amount of sleep; it just depends on the person.
So, How Much Sleep Do You Need?
When you’re tired, the best advice you’ve probably heard is to get between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. For most of us, that’s a pretty good rule of thumb. After all, 7 ½ hours of sleep is five full sleep cycles from start to finish; that’s usually plenty for most folks.
However, sleep needs can vary dramatically based on age, sex, and activity level. Discerning how much sleep you need every night usually requires paying attention to your daily routine and how tired you feel when you wake up each morning.
With that said, let’s break down four more key facts that might affect your ideal sleep schedule each night.
For starters, your age can play a big role in how much sleep you need every night. You need a lot of sleep when you are young, and your sleep needs gradually decrease as you get older. Here’s a breakdown of age ranges and typical sleep requirements as recommended by the Sleep Foundation:
- 0-1 years old: 12 to 17 hours per day
- 1-2 years old: 11 to 14 hours per day
- 3-5 years old: 10 to 13 hours per day
- 6-13 years old: 9 to 11 hours per day
- 14-17 years old: 8 to 10 hours per day
- 18-64 years old: 7 to 9 hours per day
- 65+ years old: 7 to 8 hours per day
As you can see, most Americans probably need more of a good night's sleep than they usually get. It’s speculated that older folks don’t need as much sleep as younger people because they move around less as their bodies age. In addition, mental developments may take place that require less brain regeneration compared to their younger counterparts.
Regardless, you can use the above ranges to roughly determine your sleep habits and how much sleep you need every night based on your age.
Alongside age, sex can also affect your sleep requirements, though not nearly to the same extent. Women typically need a little more sleep than men – about 11 minutes, according to research. That’s not usually enough to affect one’s sleep schedule significantly, however.
Diet Affects Bedtime Routine
More importantly, diet can affect your sleep requirements and how easy it is to go to sleep.
Eating a diet high in sugar, caffeine, and fat will make it harder to go to sleep and make you feel less tired, at least until you crash and your sleep debt catches up with you. Such a diet might also require the assistance of sleeping aids.
With that in mind, people who eat healthier, usually by prioritizing fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, and lean meat, typically need a little less sleep. They don’t sleep for excessive periods because they aren’t working off sleep debt once they finally crash.
Naturally, your genetics can also affect how much sleep you need every night. Some people are simply extra lucky and don’t need very much sleep to function well or optimally. Other people may need a greater than average amount of sleep.
Factors such as hormone amounts, body temperature, your family history of heart issues, alcohol habits, immune system, and other genetic factors may affect your total sleep time.
If you aren’t sure whether you lean one way or the other, check out your family history and how much sleep your family members get. You may have a genetic factor influencing your sleep requirements without even knowing it!
Exercise and Activity
Lastly, your exercise frequency and activity levels can change how much sleep you need. If you play sports, exercise every day, and are otherwise active, you’ll need more sleep so your body can rebuild muscle tissue and recover from activity.
On the flip side, if you have a more sedentary lifestyle, you will not need much sleep. But you may paradoxically feel more tired since your body will become lethargic.
As you can see, many factors can affect the amount of deep sleep you need every night. It can be tough to determine a restful sleep schedule for your unique needs without some experimentation.
For the best results, start a sleep journal and record the time you go to bed every night and the time you wake up every morning. You should also record any times you wake up and remember doing so in the night to measure whether you get uninterrupted sleep.
As you do this, you can figure out how much you sleep every night on average. Record how tired or refreshed you feel in the morning. Then you can adjust your sleep schedule as necessary. Additionally, you can support your sleep help using supplements like Hope Health’s Melatonin Supplement.
Packed with basic but effective ingredients and a soothing strawberry flavor, this supplement is ideal for supporting your overall sleep health. Consider it if you need help training your body to sleep for a full night or recovering after a long day at work.
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? | Sleep Foundation
Do Women Need More Hours Of Sleep Than Men? | Piedmont Healthcare
Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke