In the last weeks, you’ve been waking up in the morning more tired then before you went to bed. Your eyes are sticky, the circles under them are starting to look like bags, and you instantly nod off in front of your screen. And you’ve a hard time preventing yourself from drooling on your keyboard, almost putting an end to your days by accidental electrocution. You know you’re playing with your life, and that something’s wrong with your sleep. Maybe you’re sleeping too much? Or not enough? Hard to know. So, you start asking Google, “how many hours of sleep do I need?”. And boom, you’ve just found our complete Polysleep guide about the optimal amount of sleep for an adult. You can breathe now, you’re in good hands! Just a few more lines to read and you’ll be able to get the best sleep there is as of tonight!
Do I not sleep enough? Or do I hibernate?
If you’re recognized yourself in the above lines, it’s time for you to act. Let us start with an issue that affects many of us, even at Polysleep: lack of sleep. We’re living in the digital era, everything is calculated, quantified and configured. And in this world where only performance counts, we also have to manage our rest.
We often wish that the days were longer than 24 hours, between work and the kids (or the cat). We all have a tendency to cut into our hours of sleep to “do more”. But at Polysleep, we know that this is an illusion. In truth, even if you gain some time at work in the first days, you’ll lose some in the following because of the lack of concentration that results from prolonged lack of sleep. You’ll be less productive, on top of being less decisive when the time comes to act. Finally, you’ll gradually become a real powder keg, ready to explode at home with your fraying nerves!
But beyond the reduced capacity for attention and increased irritability, there is another telltale sign: your body’s increased appetite for all the junk food, which will surely make you gain weight in the long run. That’s due to the fact that lack of sleep significantly disturbs the production of two hormones linked to your food consumption. So, if you don’t want to become a vacuum for junk food, sleep!
On the other hand, too much sleep is killing you! Yep, a study published in PLOS Medicine researched the behaviors, including those related to sleep, of 230,000 people, and their impact. The study is conclusive: sleeping too much, taken as a single variable, increases the risk of mortality by 44 %. Lethal, no? So, it’s better to sleep for the right amount of time!
But exactly how many hours of sleep do I need?
Finally, what seems like a simple answer: if you’re between 18 and 64 years old, statistically speaking, you should sleep between 7 to 9 hours each night. But are things really that simple?
The answer, you’ve guessed it, is NO. There are in fact variations from one adult to another. Some are perfectly alert in the morning with just 6 hours of sleep, while others need 10 hours of rest. That’s still a difference of 4 hours! But then, how do you know what’s the optimal amount of sleep for you?
The answer might seem a little empirical, but you’ll know by “feeling” it. The number of hours of sleep varies but some constants remain. To be sure, a refreshing sleep will always have the same effects on your little body:
Did you think you’d get a more scientific answer with numbers and everything? Sorry to disappoint you! However, you’ll always be able to measure the hours of sleep you get with your smartphone or your smartwatch. In light of what we just told you, the quality of your sleep is more important than its quantity, even if the latter does count. That’s why what you’re feeling is important!
The quality of sleep is as important, if not more, than the quantity of sleep!
Well okay, both are linked. If you sleep less, you’ll be in poor shape. Too small an amount of time dedicated to sleeping will prevent the whole sleep recuperation mechanism from working. So, the quality of sleep depends in part on the quantity of sleep.
For all that, since needs vary from one person to another, the quality of sleep will also vary. Everyone is genetically programmed to be either a “big sleeper” or a “small sleeper”, or either an early bird or a night owl. This advice is still kind if empirical but, analyze how you’re feeling and try to follow your sleep rhythm, and you’ll realize, the quantity and quality of your sleep will improve.
Above all thought, we advise you to go back to basics because, to sleep adequately both in terms of quality and quantity, the environment plays a crucial role! So, just like we already mentioned in our “ULTIMATE guide to improve your sleep”, avoid looking at your screen in the late evening. Also, don’t drink coffee after 5 p.m., and avoid playing sports too late. For sure, your favorite sport activity induces the production of a high amount of adrenalin, testosterone and endorphin, which is not really favorable to quickly falling asleep and to getting quality sleep.
The structure of your sleep should also be taken into account, since it changes over time. Starting at 20 years old, slow-wave sleep is reduced for a greater amount of light sleep. The same goes for paradoxical sleep (also called REM sleep): its duration is reduced during adulthood. Hence, sleep becomes more fragile with age, another reason to make sure that you sleep well and sufficiently. And for that, nothing beats a good foam mattress, both comfortable and with optimum support, just like those from Polysleep, to sleep well!
So, you’re the only judge even if many factors impact your sleep!
This way, the perception of how many hours of sleep you need is up to you and depends on the perceived quality of your sleep. But some factors influence the latter, such as food, the practice of sports, or stimulants such as caffeine. The use of screens, but also your age, are also elements to consider. On top of that, in terms of hours of sleep, too little and too much spoil the game: you just have to sleep enough, no more, no less.
To help you with the typical statistical compulsions of our modern society, here are a few estimates of the appropriate amount of sleep to have according to your age:
|Age||Number of required hours||Acceptable amount of sleep|
|New-born to 3 months old||14–17 hours||11–19 hours|
|From 4 to 11 months old||12–15 hours||10–18 hours|
|From 1 to 2 years old||11–14 hours||9–16 hours|
|From 3 to 5 years old||10–13 hours||8–14 hours|
|From 6 to 13 years old||9–11 hours||7–12 hours|
|From 14 to 17 years old||8–10 hours||7–11 hours|
|From 18 to 25 years old||7–9 hours||6–11 hours|
|From 26 to 64 years old||7–9 hours||6–10 hours|
|65 years old and over||7–8 hours||5–9 hours|
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