70% of adults don’t get enough sleep, but what exactly is enough? You’ve probably often asked yourself, ‘how much sleep do I need?’. This is an important question because there is a unique answer for every individual. Determining exactly where your answer lies is the key to sleeping well and enjoying all the benefits that come with that.
For some people, it’s possible to find the right amount of time to the exact minute. However, if you can find a 30-minute window that works for you, then that’s perfect. It takes a fair amount of work and experimentation, but here’s a guide to help you find your ideal sleep time.
Your Age Sets the Target
Most experts will recommend a number of hours of sleep based on your age. This is a pretty good benchmark to aim for initially, but it’s important to remember that people differ. What’s right for one 47-year-old may not be right for another. Nevertheless, use this as a starting point and then make tweaks until you find what works for you.
The CDC has official recommendations to help you figure out roughly how much you should be sleeping. If you’re a parent, then this is a useful guide to ensure your young children are achieving adequate rest. According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborn babies under three months should be getting between 14 and 17 hours each day.
The number of hours required then declines as you age. Infants up to 12 months should be looking to get between 12 and 16 hours, while toddlers under two should spend between 11 and 14 hours out of 24 asleep. Three to five-year-olds need ten to 13 hours of sleep, and six to 12-year-olds generally require between nine and 12 hours.
Teenagers - for whom insomnia often increases due to life pressures and hormonal changes - are recommended to aim for eight to ten hours each night. For adults, between seven and nine is considered the sweet spot.
This is all helpful information, but the ranges are too wide for most people to implement correctly. How can you know whether seven hours and one minute are better than eight hours 59? How can you answer, ‘how much sleep do I need’?
Cut Out Poor Sleep Habits
To answer this question, you need to perform a kind of experiment on yourself. It’s important to put aside all variables and then figure out how much sleep you need. Human body clocks are generally excellent at ensuring that you precisely get the right amount of sleep. It operates according to the light to create the right amount of melatonin at the right time. This is a careful balance and can become easily disturbed, leading to poor sleep habits.
Smartphones are the main culprit here. The blue light emitted from their screens inhibits melatonin production. Therefore, you should try to avoid looking at your phone too close to bedtime. Keeping it out of the room completely can help, but you could also put calming sounds on while keeping the screen off. The same goes for other forms of indoor light. Keep your room dark to help your body generate that much-needed melatonin.
The other major sleep inhibitor is caffeine, which seems to delay the body clock. Drinking a cup of coffee six hours before bedtime can reduce your total sleep time by an hour. Keep your caffeine consumption to the morning if you want to get a good idea of how much you should be sleeping.
Set Your Alarm and Try to Beat it
The next step is to start experimenting. Go to bed at the same time each night and then set an alarm clock. Your goal should be to try and beat it by about five minutes. Once you do, you shouldn’t need an alarm clock anymore. You’ll simply be able to rely on your body clock to wake you up exactly when you need to start the day.
At first, you’ll be picking a time seemingly at random. Say you plan to fall asleep at 11 pm. You could then set the alarm for 7 am. This will give you a good eight hours of sleep, which is slap bang in the middle of what experts recommend for adults. If you’ve avoided the bad habits listed above, then your body should wake you up when it feels ready.
What happened? Did you wake up an hour early, or did the alarm disrupt a dream? If it’s the latter, then you likely need more sleep. Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier and rerun the experiment. If you woke up half an hour earlier, then next time, you can set your alarm for 6:35 am and try once more to beat it. The more you play this game, the closer you’ll get to the exact amount of sleep you need.
Use Natural Sleep Aids
For many reasons, both within and without your control, body clocks can fail. Stress, anxiety, and other daily pressures can make it hard to drift off to a sound and comfortable sleep. If you want some help finding out exactly how much sleep you need, then consider using natural sleep supplements. A product like Neubria Drift is designed to calm the stress and anxiety of the day so that your body clock can get back to working normally. This isn’t like using sleep medication because it’s a natural blend of gentle but effective vitamins, minerals, active micronutrients and plant extracts that encourage your body to return to its natural sleep rhythms.
Ultimately, sleep is one of your most important bodily functions. It impacts the rest of your life, including your mental wellbeing, physical health, and overall mood. Therefore, getting the right amount can significantly impact your overall happiness. So, why not try and find your own answer to the question ‘how much sleep do I need’? Do the research, drop poor habits, and then keep track of your sleeping patterns to figure out where that sleep sweet spot lies in the unique case of your own body.