How much sleep do adults really need?
Often, you may think about sleep needs in regards to babies, children, or teens. However, sleep needs never go away. Getting meaningful and adequate sleep is also very important for adults to function properly. Adult sleep needs and habits should be accounted for on an individual basis, but most need seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Sleep Research Society (SRS) recommends that every person over the age of twenty sleep seven or more hours a night. They go on to say that doing this will cultivate the highest level of health for adults.
Some of the benefits of sleeping for seven hours a night include:
- Reduced chances of weight gain
- Less chance of hypertension
- Help managing or preventing diabetes
- Decreased risk for heart disease and stroke
- A boosted immune system
- Reduces stress
- A more stable and pleasant mood
- Increased work or school performance
- A more clear, fresh, and open-minded state
Is it bad to only get 5 hours of sleep?
The recommendation that all adults get around eight hours of sleep a night is made with the knowledge that many adults might sleep more or less than that. Many factors play into how much someone may or may not need to sleep. Some of these are:
- Sleep quality. If you wake up or get woken up many times per night, your sleep will be disturbed and jolted. As a result, you won’t feel as rested. Therefore, the quality of your sleep is as important as how much sleep you get. For example, if you get five hours of high-quality sleep, that could be better than getting seven hours of disrupted sleep.
- Previous sleep history. If there are periods where you haven’t slept much, you will need more sleep in the future.
- Hormonal changes. Things like pregnancy and other hormonal shifts can significantly impact how much sleep you need to feel fully rested. Such shifts may create discomfort or pain, though, which hinders your ability to sleep, and this should also be accounted for.
- Aging. Older adults often have different sleeping patterns than younger adults. It might take longer for them to sleep, and they may sleep less and wake up more than other adults. This is a natural part of aging.
What’s the best way to sleep for optimum brain function?
Again, you should get between seven and eight hours of sleep. If you find that it is difficult to do this, or you are interested in making changes to how you sleep, the best ways to do that are:
- Having a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends
- Creating a routine before bed to help you relax
- Selecting the optimum bedding for you to feel comfortable
- Getting rid of light sources in your room
- Making sure that your bedroom is quiet
- Minimizing distracting scents in your bedroom
- Not looking at screens at least thirty minutes before your desired bedtime
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol immediately before bed
Signs that you might want to see a doctor about your sleep habits are if you have:
- An inability to go to bed and stay asleep
- Chronic and/or loud snoring
- Drowsiness or fatigue during the day
- Leg cramps
- Trouble breathing while sleeping
- Mood changes
- Difficulty moving after you wake up
If you experience many of these symptoms regularly, you may have a sleep disorder, and you must seek medical attention to test for what that may be.
However, you may also need to simply adjust certain lifestyle choices during the daytime to get the sleep you need. These could be:
- Spending time outdoors
- Exercise earlier in the day, so you are not exercising before bed
- Avoiding drinking caffeine later in the day
- Limiting your naps to less than twenty minutes
- Trying to decrease your alcohol consumption to one drink or less a day
- Eating dinner at an earlier time
- Avoiding cigarettes or making a plan to quit smoking them
Overall, it is important to make sleep a priority. You are the only person who knows precisely how much sleep you need, and if you have been missing out on a lot of sleep recently, it is up to you to go back and find your natural sleep rhythms.
You may sometimes need to sleep much more than the recommended hours and sometimes less. All that matters is that you pay attention and make being well-rested a priority.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
GetSleep: "Assess Your Sleep Needs."
HealthinAging.org: "How Much Sleep Do Older Adults Need?"
Mayo Clinic: "How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?"
MyHealthfinder: "Get Enough Sleep."
Sleep: "Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Research Society."
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