Some days, you may wake up before your alarm feeling refreshed and alert, while others you’re hitting snooze until the last possible second. Even if you sleep a relatively consistent amount each night, you can feel dramatically different upon waking up.
So how much sleep do you really need? The solutions to your sleep frustrations lie in sleep cycles, which are the stages your body goes through each night as you doze off.
Understanding how much sleep you need is about optimizing your sleep cycle, age, and personal preferences. If you want to wake up feeling refreshed and alert, keep reading to understand how much sleep you really need.
The amount of sleep you need changes throughout your life. During developmental years, you need much more rest so your body can grow and restore. As you age, the amount of sleep you need decreases. Check out the chart below for a guide to ideal sleeping amounts based on your age.
|Life Stage||Age||Hours of Sleep Needed|
|Newborns||0–3 months||14–17 hours|
|Infants||4–11 months||12–16 hours|
|Toddlers||1–2 years||11–14 hours|
|Young Children||3–5 years||10–13 hours|
|School Children||6–12 years||9–12 hours|
|Teenagers||13–18 years||8–10 hours|
|Young Adults||18–25 years||7–9 hours|
|Adults||25–64 years||7–9 hours|
|Seniors||65+ years||7–8 hours|
It’s important to remember that the amount of sleep needed to feel well-rested can vary from person to person. While some adults can function well on six or seven hours of sleep, others need at least nine to feel like they can properly function. It’s important to evaluate how you feel after waking up to determine the amount of sleep that’s right for your body.
Your body goes through several cycles while you sleep. Each cycle is broken down into four phases: N1, N2, N3, and REM sleep. Each of these overarching sleep cycles takes an average of 90 minutes — which is why it’s generally recommended to coordinate your sleeping schedule with the number of sleep cycles you can complete.
For example, within the recommended 7–9 hours for adults, 7.5 hours of sleep equals five sleep cycles and nine hours of sleep equals six sleep cycles.
REM sleep should make up around 20–25% of your total sleep for the night, approximately 1.5–2 hours of sleep for a typical adult. On average, you undergo around three to five REM sleep cycles each night. Your first REM cycle typically doesn’t occur until 90 minutes into sleep, and the amount of time you spend in REM sleep gradually lengthens throughout the night.
Even if you don’t feel tired, you should still be looking out for warning signs of sleep deprivation. Sleep is an integral part of your health, and if you’re not getting enough it can severely impact your long-term health. Here are some warning signs that you might not be spending enough time with your pillow.
If you suffer from sleep deprivation, it can be tough to diagnose the cause and find a solution. Learning how to fall asleep fast isn’t a one-size-fits-all game, which is why you should try different methods to figure out what works for you.
Check out these tips to get better quality sleep and wake up feeling well-rested.
If you want to learn how to sleep 8 hours in 4 hours, you need to hack your sleep schedule to get the most out of your rest. While you can’t turn back time, you can optimize your sleeping cycle by sleeping either three hours (two complete cycles) or 4 ½ hours (three full cycles).
Setting your sleep schedule to your sleep cycles will prevent you from waking up feeling groggy and confused — instead, you’ll wake up feeling more alert and ready to take on the day.
While getting five hours of sleep isn’t ideal, it’s okay once in a while. However, five hours of sleep isn’t enough long-term, so don’t plan on a consistent five-hour sleep schedule. If you do need to sleep around the five-hour mark, try setting your alarm to allow for either 4 ½ or six hours of sleep — this will let you get in either three or four full sleep cycles respectively.
If you’re trying to figure out whether you can adapt to less sleep in the long-term, you may be disappointed. While you can function on less sleep for some time, most adults are at their prime productivity levels when they sleep seven to nine hours per night. However, research has found that “banking” sleep, or racking up extra sleep before a less restful period, can help minimize the adverse effects of sleep deprivation for some time.
Oversleeping is defined as nine or more hours of sleep per night for adults. While oversleeping once in a while isn’t a big deal, consistently spending more than 9 hours asleep may be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as a mental condition like depression, or a sleep disorder such as bruxism and sleep apnea.
Sleeping 12 hours as an adult isn’t recommended but can be fine once in a while. The most common reason for a prolonged sleep like this is lack of rest the previous nights. While sleeping a bit more on weekends isn’t uncommon, consistently sleeping 12 or more hours can be a sign that you’re getting poor sleep during the week — meaning your body is compensating for reduced quality sleep by spending a longer amount of time in bed.
So how much sleep do you really need? Well, the answer is that it depends. A growing child likely needs several more hours of sleep than their parent, but sleep is also unique to each individual. To determine how much sleep you really need, take a look at your sleeping habits to diagnose how well you’re sleeping and determine what you can do to sleep better.