Ever asked yourself, "How much sleep do you need"? If you’re still tired when you wake up in the morning, you probably aren’t getting enough quality sleep. So, how much sleep do you need?
The amount of sleep each person needs depends on their age, health status and individuality. We can provide some estimates, but since everyone is different, there is no exact number of hours. Here’s how we’ve broken it down by age:
If you think you’re asleep for enough hours, but are still exhausted all day, you might not be getting enough uninterrupted deep NREM and NREM sleep.
NREM (non-rapid eye movement) is made up of 3 stages of sleep. The first stage is when you close your eyes and are starting to drift off, but can be easily woken. The second stage is a night of light sleep. Your body temperature and heart rate drop. Finally, the third stage is deep NREM sleep. It’s during this stage that your body begins to repair itself. It regrows tissue, builds muscle and bone, and supports the immune system.
REM (rapid eye movement) is a stage of sleep that occurs about an hour and half after you’ve fallen asleep. During REM sleep, your heart rate and breathing pick up. This is the stage of sleep that you dream in because your brain is more active. Because REM stimulates the brain, it’s required for brain development in children, and important for good mental health for people of all ages. It exercises the part of the brain that's responsible for thinking, organizing and learning.
Quality, uninterrupted sleep is better than hours of fragmented sleep. You need to get enough uninterrupted deep NREM and REM sleep each night to wake up feeling rested, refreshed and recharged. If you’re waking up several times during the night, you might not be getting enough deep NREM and REM sleep, even if the hours add up to "enough".
Without enough of those important sleep cycles, you can feel drowsy, moody, anxious, depressed and even suffer decreased cognitive performance. Sleep loss results in decreased motor skills and losing the ability to concentrate and remember. It can affect all aspects of our lives; communication skills, productivity and creativity.
The average woman needs more sleep than the average man, according to an article written by a leading expert in sleep science. The researcher stated that since women tend to multi-task and use more of their brains than men, they require more sleep to rejuvenate.
Women also have factors in life that prohibit a good night’s rest. These include discomfort caused by pregnancy, menstruation, menopause and the tendency to worry about things while trying to fall asleep. Even though they need more sleep, statistically they're getting less.
For anyone struggling to sleep, get regular exercise, be diligent about going to bed at a decent time, and limit caffeine and alcohol consumption. You can also enhance your sleep environment by investing in a high-quality mattress and pillows, and ensuring the room is cool and dark.