It’s one of those questions you never stop hearing – how much sleep should I be getting? Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things in life and yet it seems so many people are always complaining about how little sleep they’re getting.
For years, people have questioned how much sleep they should be getting. Those who see sleep as a waste of time try and get by on 4-5 hours and just burn the candle at both ends. Those who need their sleep or feel grouchy can be closer to 8-10 hours.
8 hours is the typical average that is recommended for a good night’s sleep, but most of us struggle to get our 8. In fact, given most people want to stay up at night and get up early for work, many people are getting by on 6 hours alone.
Typically, seven hours is a happy medium and this is a good amount of sleep to be getting each day. What we do know is that each person needs to get an amount which is deemed acceptable to their own bodies – enough to leave you feeling refreshed and alert throughout the day.
How many hours?
Given that many of us have a coffee in the morning (and then suffer a crash) it’s unlikely that we know exactly what our bodies need. The artificial buzz from the coffee, before it comes crashing down, can lead us to think we don’t get enough sleep as it is. This makes it even harder to then work out what your own personal average sleep time should be.
One study that gets plenty of airtime, is used by many as the benchmark regarding sleep patterns and progress. It found that those who slept for seven hours lived longer than those who slept for eight.
This seems somewhat paradoxical, although many point that the fact some of us need extra sleep is a sign of poor health to begin with. Therefore, it’s easily assumed that the amount of sleep we should be getting is dependent on how healthy we are. The problem is that striking that vital balance is extremely hard.
A similar study concluded that sleeping for over nine hours was just as bad as sleeping for less than five. For those of us who want to stay in a fine level of fitness, it would appear that seven hours appears to be seen as the scientific happy medium.
Finding the balance
As you can see from above – there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. No study can tell you exactly how much sleep you need – there is no test, no quiz that you can take. Instead, it’s all about experimenting to see where you stand as a person and what you feel like after certain sleep patterns.
For a week, try and put yourself to bed for a seven-hour sleeping session. Does this tally with what you would usually do? If so, try and add or remove an hour and see how you feel.
Every person is different and this means that each body needs its own specific level – you should try and adjust to meet that demand through testing out how much sleep you specifically need and then stick to that routine.