How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Updated: Jul 8
This is the most common question I get asked. Or a variation may be, "I sleep X hours, is that enough?"
And the answer is... it depends.
I know... not what you were expecting. The truth is, just like we all have different heights and weights, we all have different sleep needs.
I'm sure you know someone who brags about only needing 5-6 hours and they're energized for the whole day. Or perhaps you know someone who says they need at least 8-9 hours or they feel like crap.
And I can show you tons of research and graphs that show you that 7 is the "magic number." You can read more about the research in my blog, Busting the 8-Hour Sleep Myth.
But it's more important to pay attention to how you feel about your sleep than the number of hours you're sleeping.
So, how do you know if you're getting enough sleep? Well, let me ask you a few questions.
Do you need an alarm clock to wake up or frequently use the snooze button?
Do you habitually sleep late on weekends and days off?
Do you frequently fall asleep during meetings, boring sedentary activities like driving, or watching TV?
If you answer no to these questions, you are likely getting enough sleep.
If you answer yes, then here's another question:
Does it take you an hour or more to go to sleep at night or go back to sleep after waking during the night?
If you answer yes to the first three questions and no to this last question, then I suggest you need more sleep than you are getting, and I recommend you start by going to bed 30 minutes earlier for a week. If that doesn't make you feel better, then add another 30 minutes.
If you answer yes to all the questions, then you likely have insomnia.
There are two types of insomnia:
Sleep-onset insomnia - taking an hour or more to fall asleep at night.
Sleep-maintenance insomnia - taking an hour or more to go back to sleep after waking during the night.
You can experience either of these kinds (or both at the same time) at different times in your life. But if it's occurring more than 3 nights a week and has been going on for more than a few months, then you fall into the chronic insomnia category.
When you have insomnia, it doesn't really matter how much sleep you get - even if you get the "magic number" of hours, but it takes you 10 hours to do it, you will not feel good. Disrupted sleep is not rested sleep.
In order to get the rest you want, you need to treat your insomnia.