How Much Sleep Do I Need?

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

How much sleep do I need? Being sleepy and fatigued are signs you're not getting enough sleep.
Not getting the sleep you need can leave you feeling fatigued. You need to ask yourself: How much sleep do I need?

As  I kick off my blog about getting better shut eye, I think a good starting point is to address the question,  how much sleep do I need for health and well-being? Since you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already figured out that you’re not getting ENOUGH.

The reality is, sleep needs vary by age, health and lifestyle. A study by the National Sleep Foundation* found that those of us with sleep deprivation that builds up from day to day have actually forgotten what being “rested” feels like. Wouldn’t you like to remember was good sleep was like?

A Retrospective Look at Your Sleep Habits

As newborns, we slept about 16 to 17 hours a day. As adolescents, while we should have gotten 9 to 11 hours, we probably got closer to seven, depending on how late we stayed out with our friends during long summer nights or how much TV we could sneak in after our parents hit the hay.

During the college years, maybe you traded sleep for frat parties or late-night get-togethers in the dorm. These often led to pulling all-nighters to complete a term paper or cram for a final exam. Things haven’t changed, and you should not be surprised to hear that today’s college students are getting only 6 to 7 hours instead of the recommended 7 to 9 hours**. And you’re wondering why they’re taking a nap while you’re doing their laundry over spring or winter break?

As we got married and became adults (not necessarily in that order), sleep eluded many of us raising children. Waking up every few hours to feed or change newborns left us feeling like the walking dead the next morning.

Then, there’s the career and climbing the corporate ladder. This usually entails s huge commitment of your time, especially if you can’t leave your work at the office. That’s what laptops are for, to let you catch up at home! Now let’s throw in some cross-country or international business travel, and what’s the likelihood of getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep? Pretty slim, especially if you don’t know how to deal with jet lag.

So maybe you think you’ll catch up during your Golden Years. Not so fast! The amount of sleep you need as a senior doesn’t change much from a younger adult, 7 to 8 hours. However, your sleeping habits typically will change, according to the Mayo Clinic. You’re likely to get less sleep overall, and less time in rapid eye movement – or REM – cycle, the dream phase of sleep. So, you’re not getting the same quality of sleep as you once did. Plus, age-induced aches and pains, the need for more medications, and more frequent bathroom trips also can affect sleep.

OK, You Ask: How Much Sleep Do I Need?

For more specifics on sleep need at various life stages, check out the NSF’s chart showing “recommended” hours of sleep. That should give you a feel for how much sleep you should be getting.

Information from the National Sleep Foundation.

It’s Not Just About How Much You Sleep

Asking yourself “how much sleep do I need?” is a great start. But getting good shut eye isn’t only about quantity of sleep – it’s about quality of sleep as well. The question is, what can you do to improve your sleep? That’s the point of this blog. Check out upcoming articles for tips to getting better shut eye, no matter what stage of life you’re in. And feel free to register below so you’ll know when I publish the next post. This part’s easy. No need to lose any sleep over it!

In the next blog post I cover why you should use a sleeping diary or journal to track your shut eye.

*Sleep Health, Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, March 2015.
**University of Georgia University Health Center.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.

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