How Many Hours Of Sleep Do We Really Need?

Lack of sleep can take a toll on your health and longevity, say experts.

How much sleep is enough for you to feel rested? Shoot this question to the people around and you’re likely to hear them answering ‘eight hours’. So, is ‘eight hours’ the ideal sleep time for you to stay active and be productive at work?

Needn’t be. Factors like age, health, anxiety, bedding, all determine our sleep time. Here’s a breakdown of the sleep time across one’s age, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation*.

Age Hours of sleep per day
0 – 3 months 14 – 17 hrs
4 – 11 months 12 – 15 hrs
1 – 2 years 11 – 14 hrs
3 – 5 years 10 – 13 hrs
6 – 13 years 9 – 11 hrs
14 – 17 years 8 – 10 hrs
18 – 25 years 7 – 9 hrs
26 – 64 years 7 – 9 hrs
65+ years 7 – 8 hrs

According to the guidelines above, sleep time is inversely proportional to age. However, this doesn’t mean that the older you get, you can conveniently get on with less than 7 hours of sleep.

As an adult, you must devote seven to nine hours of your nighttime to sleep, failing which you can fall into serious sleep debt. Even a few minutes shy of the minimum recommended-sleep-time can over time amount to massive sleep debt.

You may feel like you can get over your sleep debt by oversleeping during weekends. However, it does not work that way. This pattern can ruin your circadian rhythm or your biological clock. You will soon find yourself afflicted with several health problems like weight gain, hypertension, and heart disease.

How will you know that you’re getting enough sleep?

Here are some of the ways to ascertain whether you are getting the required amount of sleep daily:

  • Observe how fast you fall asleep: Ideally, you need less than 20 mins to doze off after hitting the pillow. If you don’t, you can be certain that factors like caffeine, stress and food are interfering with your sleep. Another factor conveniently ignored is the mattress you sleep on. Check if the mattress fits your sleeping position and body type. In case you find it uncomfortable, get it replaced with a new one. Read our article on how to choose a mattress for yourself. Also, click and shop online for the best mattress from our collection.
  • The wake-up struggle: If you have the habit of setting alarm for mornings, see whether you are able to wake up without feeling sleepy. If your body still longs for some more sleep, it is trying to say you are sleep deprived and should repay the sleep debt.
  • Diary writing: Keep a diary to note down things like when you go to bed, wake up and your feelings during the day. If you notice any change in your mood pattern or stress level, mention that as well; it could be signs that your body needs rest.

Having said this, you may sometimes feel lethargic despite investing 7-8 hours of your nighttime in sleep. Just as sleep time, the quality of sleep is also an important factor to feel refreshed when you wake up. So, your goal should be to get restful sleep rather than trying to sleep for the correct number of hours.

*A not-for-profit organisation in the US working to educate people on the importance of sleep.