Are You Wondering How Many Hours Of Sleep Is Required For Good Health?
Staying up late to finish a work project that’s due when you wake up? Partying at a friend’s birthday until the wee hours of the morning? Scrolling through your phone till after midnight because “you can’t sleep”?
If any or all of these sound familiar, you’re likely practicing unhealthy sleep habits that could be interfering with how many hours of sleep is required for good health.
Sleep is essential but when life gets in the way and we have things to do, those usually become our priority at the expense of fewer hours of sleep.
There is plenty of information out there about how much sleep the average adult needs. We’ve always been told that 8 hours of sleep at night is the perfect time, but is that really so?
Sleep Foundation recommends that people ages 18 to 64 sleep anywhere between 7 and 9 hours.
But what happens if you can’t sleep for that long every night?
Is 6 hours of sleep enough?
Say you don’t have the time to sleep for 7 to 9 hours every night but you can manage 6. What most doctors would probably say is that 6 hours of sleep is not preferred, but acceptable. If there are days where you have a lot on your plate and can’t squeeze in that extra hour or two, then 6 hours of sleep is enough to get you through the day without harming your health. However, since it’s only acceptable, we think you shouldn’t really make a habit of it.
What about less than 6 hours? Is 2, 3, 4 or 5 hours of sleep enough?
The short answer? No.
One study showed that having 5 hours of sleep per night for a few nights in a row negatively affected mood, productivity, and behavior. Now imagine the effects less than 5 hours would have on our brain and body! Of course, we can’t always influence the amount of sleep we get. However, your body will need time to replenish and make up for that “lost” sleep.
We’re not talking about naps here - those are short and can help with concentration and tiredness - but hours of sleep necessary for your body at night.
How much sleep is too much?
If you feel like you always need 10+ hours of sleep per night, that may be a sign that you should get a check up. The reason you need more sleep than what’s considered “normal” could be hypersomnia, sleep apnea, or depression, so it’s very important to go to your doctor and make sure everything is ok.
While it’s OK to stay in bed all day from time to time, it could be a sign of something more serious going on if you notice that’s all you are doing.
Even though the longevity of your sleep is important, sleeping too much may cause a number of issues and conditions. Diabetes, obesity, headaches, and heart conditions can all be linked to too much sleep, so we can’t stress enough how important it is to seek advice from your doctor if you find yourself sleeping too much for long periods of time.
What are your nightly sleep needs? (by age)
Sleep quality and longevity requirements differ from person to person and depend on many different factors. And while that is so, we can still use an age guide to give us estimates.
Take a look at the table below for more information.
What does sleep do for your health?
Maybe the better question would be what does it NOT do, as it seems that a good night’s sleep can benefit you in almost every way! Sleeping enough and sleeping well every night boosts your body’s natural immune response. It can help with your concentration, mood, productivity, and even weight loss! So not only does good sleep quality help your body, it also benefits your mind.
Is it unhealthy to go to sleep at 4AM? Is getting up at 4AM healthy?
Every person has something called a circadian rhythm. That is a term used for your brain’s natural sleep-wake schedule. Our biological tendencies follow the sun. In an ideal situation, we would go to sleep earlier at night and wake up earlier in the morning. However, due to a number of different factors, you may not be able to follow this schedule - which is why the quality and longevity of sleep are also very important.
Amongst the most important things is to try and find a sleep schedule you can stick to.
What is the best time to go to bed?
The best way to calculate the perfect time to go to bed and get enough sleep is to subtract 7 to 9 hours from the time you should wake up. For example, if you’re supposed to wake up at 7AM, subtract 8 hours and you’ll get 11PM. Take into account that that’s the time you should already be fast asleep.
How to get the sleep that you need
We mentioned many benefits of good sleep and the side effects of bad sleep. There are a few ways to improve sleep and things you could do to improve sleep quality.
Try to have a consistent sleep schedule. Having a rough time estimate of when you wake up and go to bed and sticking to it can really help up your sleep quality. There’s a reason why people are called creatures of habit.
Be more active. By being more active throughout the day you’ll not only feel better, you’ll sleep better too!
Reduce caffeine intake. Just as you drink coffee in the mornings to wake you up, you should try and avoid caffeine later in the day for that very reason.
Keep away from electronics. We know this one might be hard, but try and avoid looking at your phone, laptop or TV for at least half an hour before trying to fall asleep.
Eat clean. Try to eat more vegetables, healthy fats & proteins, while avoiding processed foods and sugars. This could help improve your overall health, and also your quality of sleep.
Supplement wisely. It’s only normal that you won’t always get all the much needed nutrients from food every day. Think about which vitamins and minerals you might be lacking and supplement them, preferably in liquid form so you get all the benefits - faster.
Conclusion: Listen to your body and pay attention to the signs. By understanding your body’s needs, you can improve your sleep schedule and the quality of your waking life.
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