How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need?
9 min read
Last Modified 18 July 2023 First Added 21 July 2021
“The key is to find out what works for you.”
Getting a good night’s sleep is super important – It affects everything from our brain power and memory to our mood and energy levels. But ask two people how much sleep we need, and you’ll likely get two different answers. Some swear by 6 hours a night, while others think 9 hours is about right. If you find yourself wondering how much do I actually need? The truth is that there’s no single figure that’s correct for everybody.
In our UK Sleep Survey, we found people, on average, spend 5 hours 55 minutes in bed actually sleeping, a 6% increase since 2016…
So, let’s take a deeper look into how many hours we should spend sleeping, what can affect it, and how to figure out what’s right for us.
Simply put, most doctors and sleep experts recommend between 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. This seems to be the sweet spot for the majority of people to feel refreshed and get the benefits that sleep provides us. There is a huge amount of research into sleep, and studies have shown that consistently sleeping too little (less than 6-7 hours) or too much (9 or more hours) are both linked to an elevated risk of cardiovascular issues, weight management issues, diabetes, and depression.
However, it’s not entirely that simple. As we mentioned before, how much sleep you personally need may fall outside of this number, and we’ll talk more about figuring out your routine further on.
Your age is the most significant factor determining how much sleep you need, although there’s no magic number as everyone is different. The key factor for understanding how much sleep you need is to listen to your body. If you find yourself groggy each morning, you may need to alter how many hours you get each night. That said, a good first step is using recommended hours as a starting point. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, these are the recommended hours of sleep by age group:
|Age Group||Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day|
|Newborn||0–3 months||14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)
No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)2
|Infant||4–12 months||12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Toddler||1–2 years||11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Preschool||3–5 years||10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|School Age||6–12 years||9–12 hours per 24 hours|
|Teen||13–18 years||8–10 hours per 24 hours|
|Adult||18–60 years||7 or more hours per night|
|61–64 years||7–9 hours|
|65 years and older||7–8 hours|
The recommended amount of sleep we need relates to our age, and also our genetic makeup, where we live, how much sleep debt we have, our sleep cycle, and plenty of other factors, including how active we are in the daytime.
That said, a good rule of thumb is that the younger we are, the more sleep we need. Young toddlers aged 1-2 years need 11-14 hours of sleep. Whereas the recommended amount of sleep for adults aged 18-60 years is 7 hours or more. This is because toddlers are still in the process of growing and sleep is vital to support growth and brain development.
Sleeping may seem like your time to relax, rest, and dream; however, sleep has more impact on your health and lifestyle than you might think. Your quality of sleep is directly linked to and affects how you feel during the day as well as both your physical and mental health. Here are several reasons why a good night’s sleep is important:
Again, the amount of sleep you need for good health and function will differ from person to person, but it’s all about how you feel during your day-to-day. Scientists have actually identified 2 genes which allow some people to feel well-rested with short sleep (6 hours or less) and not get the usual negative side effects of sleep deprivation. For most of us though, lack of sleep can lead to emotional dysregulation, trouble dealing with stress, memory issues, and general brain fog, which makes everything a bit harder. If you are feeling energised and ready to tackle your day, then you’re getting enough.
Do you relate? Find out more about short sleeper syndrome.
If you regularly don’t get enough sleep, you could end up suffering from sleep deprivation. If so, it’s likely your body will send signals that you need to increase your hours. These symptoms include:
If your sleep is interrupted a lot, you may need more hours of sleep to compensate for the lack of quality sleep you’re receiving, which is referred to as “sleep debt”. It means that there’s a discrepancy between how much sleep you need and how much you’re actually getting, which can lead to lethargy, poor mental functions, and low mood. Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy to accumulate sleep debt, even missing an hour every day can add up to an entire night’s worth of sleep lost. According to research into sleep debt, it can take you up to 4 days to recover for every 1 hour of sleep debt!
If you spent the night tossing and turning or stayed up too late doom-scrolling, then you may feel exhausted when your alarm goes off. Of course, you can use caffeine, power foods, and even a nap to shake the grogginess but it won’t make up for the lost time. Thankfully, you can recover from sleep debt with some good habits. Consistency is key when it comes to getting decent slumber, so if you do have a few bad nights, it’s important to get back to a healthy routine as soon as possible.
If you’ve ever enviously watched your pet snooze all day and wondered if you should have a quick kip too, then we’re here to tell you that napping can have some great benefits. While humans have evolved to sleep more efficiently and so, don’t require as much sleep as other animals, sometimes a nap is just what you need. Take a look at our guide to napping to find out more about the benefits, the ideal length, and when is best to get your shut-eye into your schedule.
If you consistently feel so sleepy during the day that you can’t focus or stay awake, you’re probably lacking in restful time in bed the night before. Try to fix your nighttime routine, and don’t let yourself nap during the late afternoon or evening, as this can disrupt your sleep patterns.
The amount of sleep you need is related to getting the right number of sleep cycles during the night. As we sleep, we go through 4 phases: initial, light, deep, and REM, which all do different things and are vital for a restful night. It takes roughly 90 minutes to go through each cycle, and it’s recommended to get 5-6 each night, so take a look at our sleep cycle calculator to find out your ideal bedtime.
Getting yourself into a routine and adopting these healthy habits during the day and at night can help you get more sleep. We’ll explore some tips below:
During the day: