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Sleep Duration: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

We all hear how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Your parents always reminded you of it when you were little and went to bed each night…you learned about it in Biology class…and you’ve read all the research and studies out there about the need for sleep, and what it means for us when it comes to leading a more productive and healthy life but no one talks about sleep duration.

Unfortunately, when our lives get busy, sleep is often the first thing to be reduced or ignored. Sleep, however, is more than just a time for your mind and body to rest. While you’re asleep, your body is hard at work rebuilding the muscles you’ve worn down during the day, and cleaning away harmful waste that’s produced in your brain. Refreshing these functions is what keeps us going both mentally and physically each day.

Sleep Duration…Here’s What We Know

So what actually constitutes a ‘good night’s sleep’? Is there really a set number of hours that we need, and does it depend on our age, lifestyle and other factors?

While sleep requirements vary from person to person, most adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. Children and teenagers need even more than that, and older people need at least seven hours of sleep – despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease as we get older.

One alarming study has shown that sleeping less than four hours is linked to a 15 times greater chance of causing a car accident. Another recently released study tells us that middle-aged men that sleep five hours or less a night have twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease – with the study further demonstrated that high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, current smoking, low physical activity, and poor sleep quality were more common in men who slept five or fewer hours per night compared to those who slept seven to eight hours.

In another study, the National Sleep Foundation concluded that sufficient sleep duration requirements vary across lifespans and from person to person. The research panel determined that for healthy individuals with normal sleep, the appropriate sleep duration for newborns is between 14 and 17 hours, infants between 12 and 15 hours, toddlers between 11 and 14 hours, preschoolers between 10 and 13 hours, and school-aged children between 9 and 11 hours. For teenagers, 8 to 10 hours was considered appropriate, 7 to 9 hours for young adults and adults, and 7 to 8 hours of sleep for older adults. The study also found that those who habitually sleep outside these normal ranges may exhibit signs or symptoms of serious health problems or, if done on their own volition, may be compromising their health and well-being.

Sleep duration

Sleeprate’s Research on Sleep Duration

As we’ve covered in our Knowledge Base, there is no exact standard for the amount of sleep a person requires Each person is unique, but what we do know is that you need enough sleep to avoid drowsiness and to perform at optimal efficiency during the day; and that this need changes with age, so what works best at one stage of your life may not be appropriate for another.

We also posted a blog with some helpful tips and rules for getting a good night’s sleep – including reviewing your bedtime environment, use of relaxation techniques, and good and bad habits before bedtime.

In our recent GSF research about the amount of sleep we need, we found that for users who completed their sleep assessment during the GSF (while recording at least 3 nights in their assessment), the average time in bed was 475.7 ± 81.3 minutes (7:56 ± 1:21 hours). The average total sleep time (sleep duration) for these users was 437.1 ± 88.5 minutes (7:17 ± 1:28 hours).

Per country, the data was as follows:

 CountryTime in Bed [minutes]Total Sleep Time [minutes]
New Zealand478.1±77.0434.9±84.4
South Africa473.5±80.2435.4±92.2

Per group age, the population was slightly different (these were still GSF users who completed at least three nights of the assessment, but several exclusion criteria were used for this population).

The average total sleep time for each age group was as follows:

Group AgeTotal Sleep Time [minutes]

For reported daytime stress and sleepiness, we used a scale of 1-10. The average daytime stress reported by GSF users during their assessment was 4.8±2.5, and the reported sleepiness was 3.5±2.7.

Unrelated to the GSF, at the Asia-Pacific Congress on Sports Technology (APCST) in 2017, we also published research in which we compared several sleep parameters of athletes to those of general users. When comparing these two groups, the average total sleep time was 417.0±44.7 minutes for athletes and 383.4±47.4 minutes for general users.

Watch Dr. Britney Blair, Clinical Psychologist talk about 8-hour sleep and sleep duration.


More About Sleeprate

At Sleeprate, our advanced sleep monitoring, assessment, and improvement programs create the most reliable, effective, and best sleep tracking solution available today. Sleeprate’s core technology utilizes behavioral sleep medicine practices developed and implemented at Stanford University’s Behavioral Sleep Division. Our unique sleep evaluation solution for better sleep-life balance was developed and customized as a step-by-step program to improve mental and physical performance so that people can be more productive and effective each and every day.

Sleeprate provides world-class technologies that offer people anywhere and everywhere the most effective, reliable and user-friendly sleep analysis, monitoring, assessment, and improvement around – all in a single solution. Sleeprate’s comprehensive all-in-one solution helps people achieve a better sleep-life balance and improve mental and physical performance – giving them the opportunity to be more productive and lead a healthier lifestyle.

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