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How Much Sleep Do I Need At Night? Improve Your Sleep Today

Getting a good night's sleep can leave you feeling rested and refreshed and is absolutely vital for maintaining good health. Not getting enough sleep is linked to all sorts of health problems, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Yet, some people constantly struggle with getting the rest they need, and the more we learn about sleep, the more we realise how little we really know.

how much sleep do i need each night?

People often wonder about the amount of sleep needed at night to get the maximum benefit. Many studies and numerous experts have weighed in on this subject, and the conclusion is that there is no easy answer or magic number. Since everyone's body is different and no one really fits a typical mold, the number varies from individual to individual.

Many factors are involved in determining the correct amount of sleep you need, including your age and overall general health. But even among people who are in the same age group, one could feel perfectly rested and refreshed after 7 hours of sleep while another person needs 9 hours per night to get the same feeling.

How Much Sleep Do I Need on a Regular Basis?

There are also a few other terms you may have heard of before, for instance, your basal sleep requirement. This is the number of hours of sleep your body regularly needs to feel well-rested and refreshed and maintain good health. This is the number that varies by age group and even person to person. Another factor called your sleep debt is the amount of sleep you lose due to temporary insomnia, shift work, or a late night out on the town and then arising early to get to work.

Basal Sleep Amount Needed At Night.

The basal sleep need for normal adults is said to be somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. This is the amount of sleep you should aim to get regularly because it will give you the best chance to get the proper rest your body needs. Individual requirements could vary, and our hectic modern lifestyles may seem to make this number difficult to achieve consistently. This is where the basal sleep number and the sleep debt number come together, and things get a bit complicated.

You may achieve your basal sleep number for a week or two in a row, but something suddenly comes up, and you cannot get the right amount of enough sleep that the body requires and begin falling into "sleep debt.

However, researchers have discovered that it's possible to pay back your sleep debt, although it can be a long process and not something that can be done in one night. The idea is to add on extra time, an hour or two, each night until you feel you've gotten back to the point of feeling rested and refreshed in the morning. It could actually take a few months before your debt is fully repaid.

How Much Sleep Do I Need Each Night?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, not all adults require seven hours or more of sleep per day - some may find they do better with less or even slightly longer amounts (8-9). The sleep amount needed vary by individual and circumstance.


The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine says that a person's BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) plays a significant part in how much sleep they need each night. An individual recommended hours of sleep depend on how active they are.

How To Assess Your Individual Sleep Needs

To determine the amount of sleep you need each night, there are a few varying factors that you should consider, including your overall health, typical sleep patterns and the amount and intensiveness of your daily activities.

Here are a few questions that can help you help assess your individual sleep needs:

  • Do you have a chronic illness? What medications do you take, and how does that affect your sleep?
  • Do you prefer to keep a consistent bedtime and wake time, or do you vary these times throughout the week?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping and wake up tired?
  • Are you taking medication for sleep issues? What is the treatment goal? Is it to fall asleep, stay asleep or get more restorative sleep?​
  • Are you a shift worker? Does your job involve unusual or hard-to-maintain sleep/wake schedules?
  • How long does it usually take to fall asleep at night?
  • Do you consider yourself a "heavy" sleeper, or gets woken up easily by noise, light, pets, etc.?
  • How many times per night do you awaken, and how long is it before you return to sleep? Does this seem like an increasing trend over time?
  • Do other people in your household complain about your snoring or movements during sleep time?
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating, remembering information and/or making decisions after periods of sleep loss (if so)?
  • Do you depend on caffeinated drinks to get you through the day?

Newborns and infants require the most amount of sleep, somewhere between 12 - 18 hours, and toddlers need 12 - 14 hours of sleep a night. Preschoolers can use between 11 - 13, while middle-grade students require 10-11 hours per night to perform their best. Contrary to popular belief, teens-only require 8 - 9.5 hours of sleep each night.

What Is The Recommended Amount Of Sleep for Each Age Group?

The recommended sleep times for different age groups:

Age Range

Recommended Hours of Sleep


0-3 months old

14-17 hours


4-11 months old

12-15 hours


1-2 years old

11-14 hours


3-5 years old

10-13 hours


6-13 years old

9-11 hours


14-17 years old

8-10 hours

Young Adult

18-25 years old

7-9 hours


26-64 years old

7-9 hours

Older Adult

65 or more years old

7-8 hours

Improving Your Sleep Habits: What Next?

Once you've figured out the number of hours of sleep that your body needs in order to be well-rested, it's time to think about how to develop the perfect sleep schedule. This means proper planning and sticking to the hours you need each day. While trading off sleep for work or other social activities, with a self promise to pay up later, may be tempting, it usually doesn’t pay off in the long run and will eventually cause sleep deprivation and disrupt your sleep cycle again.

Sleep plays an essential role in both your mental and physical health. Improving your sleep hygiene key if you want a good night’s rest and optimum performance during the day.

Tips to improve your sleep hygiene

  • Try to keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Develop a relaxing pre-bedtime routine such as reading a calming book, yoga or listening to your favourite soft music.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment. The bedroom temperature should be right, the bed mattress & pillow should be supportive & comfortable.
  • Avoid caffeine/alcohol a few hours before you go to bed.
  • Avoid daytime naps. This makes it easier to fall asleep at night.
  • Don't eat or drink too much before you go to bed.

Read more about how to improve your sleep hygiene here.

The Importance Of Deep Sleep & REM Sleep.

It’s not just the amount of hours you sleep that matters  the quality of those many hours of sleep is just as important. 

Each stage offers different benefits. Deep sleep is the most restorative stage of sleep. Deep sleep helps the body to repair itself and build up energy for the day ahead.

On the other hand, REM sleep helps your mind relax and boosts your mood. It is crucial in optimizing your neuronal connections for learning and memory. REM basically prunes off unimportant connections from the previous day and wires together important ones for learning or memory recall.

Do the hours really matter? Bottom Line;

Sleep restores our bodies and cognitive systems. A lack of sleep causes both physical and cognitive problems in the long term. Sleep is like a "reset" button for the brain, and REM seems to be where most of that magic happens. 

If you have plenty of sleep but still experience sleep deprivation symptoms, it means you don’t spend adequate time on the different stages of sleep. 

Remember that it's important to try to repay your sleep debt and get back on the right track.


Ferrara, M., & De Gennaro, L. (2001). How much sleep do we need?. Sleep medicine reviews, 5(2), 155-179.

Basics, B. (2006). Understanding sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda.

Van Dongen, H., Maislin, G., Mullington, J. M., & Dinges, D. F. (2003). The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: dose-response effects on neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation. Sleep, 26(2), 117-126.

Hartmann, E., Baekeland, F., Zwilling, G., & Hoy, P. (1971). Sleep need: how much sleep and what kind?. American Journal of Psychiatry, 127(8), 1001-1008.

Yaggi, H. K., Araujo, A. B., & McKinlay, J. B. (2006). Sleep duration as a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care, 29(3), 657-661.

Basics, B. (2006). Understanding sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda.

Hartmann, E., Baekeland, F., Zwilling, G., & Hoy, P. (1971). Sleep need: how much sleep and what kind?. American Journal of Psychiatry, 127(8), 1001-1008.

Yaggi, H. K., Araujo, A. B., & McKinlay, J. B. (2006). Sleep duration as a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care, 29(3), 657-661.

Basics, B. (2006). Understanding sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda.

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