How to Know How Much Sleep You Need

Do you feel drowsy? Can’t stop yawning? Maybe you’re not getting as much sleep as you should. Or perhaps you overslept– there is such a thing, and it’s not good for you, either! To figure out how much sleep you need, follow these steps.

Develop good sleep hygiene.

If you’re getting “bad sleep” (a mixture of lying awake in bed and actual sleep) then you have no way of knowing how much good sleep you are getting. To carry out this test, you’re going to need at least decent quality sleep (falling asleep soon after you go to bed, and not waking up a lot through the night). Read How to Fall Asleep and How to Sleep Better. Here are the basics:

  • Turn out all the lights. Close the curtains or blinds as tightly as possible. If necessary, wear a sleep mask to ensure total darkness, which is one the most important factors in getting a good night’s rest.
  • Don’t eat or exercise in the last few hours before you go to bed.
  • Don’t drink much in the hour before you sleep, and use the bathroom right before you go to bed. This reduces the likelihood of waking up to use the toilet.
  • Don’t get in the habit of reading, watching TV, listening to music, or doing anything that engages your mind when you’re in bed.
  • Learn how to clear your mind. See How to Meditate.
  • Abstain from alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, and medicines that can affect your sleep. Continue abstaining from the use of these products for the duration of the test. (Consult your doctor before abstaining from prescribed medicines.)

Consider the recommended hours of sleep for your age and health group.

Though these may not be a perfect fit for you, they are good to aim for until you’ve tested your own rhythms. The recommended guidelines are as follows:[2]

  • Infants: 14 to 15 hours
  • Toddlers: 12 to 14 hours
  • School-age children:10 to 11 hours
  • Teens: 8 to 10 hours
  • Adults: 7 to 9 hours
  • Pregnant women may experience an increased need for sleep.
  • Older adults need the same amount of sleep as their young-adult counterparts but, due to a tendency to wake more frequently at night, should consider napping during the day.
  • Individuals who were previously sleep-deprived will need to sleep extra hours until they recover.
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