There is no standard for the amount of sleep an individual requires. Each person is unique. In simple terms, you need enough sleep to avoid drowsiness and to perform at optimal efficiency during the day. That need changes with age, so what works best in one stage of your life may not be appropriate for another. At the extremes of a distribution across large populations are normal people who need as little as 4 hours or as much as 12 hours.
A majority of people do very well with 7½ to 8 hours of sleep. But use those numbers only as a starting point until you determine if that range is appropriate for you. Although you can ignore your body’s need for a certain amount of rest through motivation and sheer force of will, doing so isn’t conducive to good health or a vibrant existence.
Our “always on” culture has permeated traditional barriers between work time, family time, playtime, and rest. Sometimes we’re trying to do two or three things at once; or we’re struggling to meet an unnatural (and occasionally unrealistic) expansion of obligations. The result is that more of us are carrying sleep debts or adding to them faster than ever before. Sleeping late on the weekends may seem to help, but in fact it’s only paying interest on the debt, so to speak.
Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for mental and physical health.
You cannot perceive, in precise terms, how much sleep you actually need. The only way of evaluating that in a scientific manner is to sleep for several nights without wakeup or other constraints. After the sleep debt is replenished, your natural need for sleep will take over and yield an accurate duration.
If you suspect you’re not getting enough sleep, you may need to investigate further by using the SleepRate solution (see below) or by a visiting your physician for professional evaluation.
How can I improve my sleep?
Our Sleep-Life Balance Program measures and reports the duration and efficiency of sleep you receive. If you feel you aren’t getting enough restorative sleep, we will make personalized recommendations to help you sleep better.