How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Featured Article: 
Make a Featured Article

Einstein famously needed 10-11 hours sleep every day whilst Margaret Thatcher could make do with 5 hours! 

It has been said that without enough sleep we all become two year olds!  But the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person and will also change during the course of our lives.  Most adults need 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

Newborn babies typically require 17 hours of sleep out of a 24 hour cycle, whilst a toddler can do with 12 hours a night, and an additional 1-2 hours during the day.  By four years of age, a preschool child will probably require 10-12 hours at night, with no daytime sleep. 

By the time the teenage years come around, we require around 9 hours of sleep but when this sleep naturally occurs may change drastically as a night owl emerges, who then struggles to wake up in the mornings! 

Elderly people find that their sleep becomes more disturbed and they may sleep as little as 6-7 hours at night with a few daytime naps. 

Some studies suggest that woman need more sleep than men, particularly if they are pregnant.  Menopausal changes may also have an impact on sleep requirements.

Quality of sleep

What is apparent though is both quality and quantity of sleep are important and often intertwined. 

Jim Horne of the Sleep Research Centre in Loughborough refers to ‘Core Sleep’ and ‘Optional Sleep’.  Horne’s concept was that core sleep - the first 4-5 hours of sleep, is crucial as the brain waves are slower and longer and processing work being undertaken to restore and rejuvenate is at it’s peak. The sleep during this time frame is most important.   As the night progresses the amount of REM sleep increases within each cycle.  He argues that anything after 5 hours is ‘optional sleep’ (nice to have) and appears to be less crucial.

If your sleep quality is impaired you can explore a number of options to improve it naturally. Sleep supplements are powerful, natural ways to encourage the production of sleepy hormones like melatonin.

Consider ear plugs if you are sleeping in a noisey place or an eyemask if your room is too light.