How Much Sleep Do I Need?

September 3, 2020

You can tell just by browsing through social media that people are getting tired of the hectic lifestyle that’s been associated with “today”. Rather than wearing our fingers to the bone to meet increasingly stringent deadlines, we are beginning to rethink how we balance work and rest for ultimate fulfillment.

When it comes to rest, healthy sleeping is one of the most empowering habits to adopt. Obvious as it may seem, many people deny themselves the pleasure of a good night’s sleep until they end up fatigued (almost) beyond repair. What is even sadder is that many do it unknowingly.

Indeed, how do you know whether you’ve been sleeping enough recently? Are you 100% sure you can always read the signals that your body gives you, or that you allow yourself the luxury of even listening to it? If yes, good for you. There are, however, who’d like to have a “magic number” to stick to so that they can always tell if they are doing it right.

My name is Dr. Catherine Rodgers, and I am a certified therapist with a specialization in sleep medicine. In this article, I’ll share with you my knowledge of what the human body needs in terms of rest.

Here Come the Figures

While it’s certainly true that every person is unique, normal ranges do exist that apply to human sleep behavior depending on the situation. The key factor determining our need for sleep is how old we are.

On average, infants and toddlers spend 12 to 17 hours a day dozing. The number goes down to about 10–13 hours for preschool children, while those aged 6 to 13 are fine with 9 to 11 hours a day. Teenagers are close to young adults and grown-ups with 8 to 10 hours of sleep daily. For most adults, the norm lies between 7 and 9 hours. However, individual deviations exist at as little as 6 or as much as 10 hours of sleep each day.

The need for sleep in humans tends to decline with age. Most of those aged 65 and more hardly exceed 8 hours daily, and insomnia is a common problem among the elderly.

What Other Factors Are There to Consider?

Whether you are likely to gravitate towards either end of the normal spectrum or even fall out of the normal range for your age group depends on a number of parameters.

Pregnancy is one factor that can affect the need for sleep in women. In fact, you should expect to sleep several hours more than usual during the first trimester, which is nothing to worry about.

Now that we’ve mentioned worrying, anxiety has been identified as a key reason behind insomnia and is associated with various changes in people’s sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation is also known to contribute to stress build-up by way of a vicious circle, which means restful sleep and emotional health are mutually critical.

Finally, there’s a number of health issues that can cause trouble sleeping. These include heartburn, diabetes, respiratory problems, and many more. Certain neurological diseases as well as prescription drugs, on the contrary, bring about an increased need for sleep.

How Do I Know If I’m Having Enough Sleep?

Generally, a person with healthy sleeping habits isn’t supposed to show signs of sleep deprivation, such as feeling sleepy in the daytime, especially when going through boring tasks, forgetfulness, or lack of concentration. Mood swings are also a common manifestation that your body isn’t getting enough sleep, as is the tendency to fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down. If you notice any of these signs, it’s probably time you developed healthier sleeping habits.

Is It the More the Better?

It might be tempting to assume that oversleeping is not an issue. However, feeling tired after you’ve been having over nine hours of sleep for days is a sign that you might need to see your doctor. Such drowsiness is a symptom of hypersomnia, a neurological disorder consisting of excessive sleepiness.

Bottom line

Although circadian rhythms differ from person to person, most healthy adult individuals should feel focused and well-rested after 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day, provided that they don’t have a “sleep debt” after a night spent awake. Exceeding the norm of falling dramatically behind it might be an indicator of health issues.


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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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