How Much Sleep Do We Need?

During the course of our lifetime we will spend one-third of it sleeping. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but children sleep even more: 12 to 14 hours each day. New born babies sleep 18 hours a day.

An Individual Thing

As we get older we tend to sleep less, for a variety of reasons. For most healthy, normal adults, 7 to 9 hours of sleep is recommended, but there is no “magic” number. Sleep needs are completely individual. The amount of sleep you need to function best may be completely different for someone else, even though you are both the same age, gender and body type. While you may function at your best with 7 hours of sleep each night, someone else may clearly need 9 hours to have a happy, productive life.

People generally sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans as they get older. Although their need for sleep is the same as it was in their early adulthood.

Your Sleep Account Is Overdrawn

Getting too little sleep creates a “sleep debt” which is much like being overdrawn at your bank. Your body will demand more sleep. Over time, if your sleep debt goes unpaid, your judgement, reaction time, creativity, problem solving ability, and other functions become impaired.

But just as important as the quantity of sleep is getting the right mix of REM and non-rem sleep, as well as shallow and deep sleep.

Experts say that if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities like this, you haven’t had enough sleep. And, if you routinely fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, you probably have severe sleep deprivation. Possibly even a serious sleep disorder.

A Change of Normal

During the last 50 years, western industrialized societies have created so much sleep deprivation that what is really abnormal sleepiness has now become almost normal.

As mentioned earlier, sleep deprivation is dangerous, and should be avoided. Proper sleep is as important as proper diet.

Is Too Much Sleep Harmful?

Some research has shown that habitual, long durations of sleep – typically 9 hours or more – are associated with increased illness, accidents and death rates. However, there is no strong evidence that sleeping too much is detrimental to our health, or even evidence that our bodies will allow us to sleep beyond what is required. Sleeping longer is merely paying down the sleep debt.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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