How much sleep do you need every night? Six hours? Eight? Ten? Whether you need five or seven, as long as that amount leaves you feeling rested and refreshed then it’s the right amount for you.
There’s a widespread conviction that we all need exactly eight hours a night, and getting less is harmful while getting more is lazy. No one really knows where this myth began, but what we do know is that scientists didn't start studying sleep patterns until the 18th century, meaning the myth has likely been around for many years.
Sleep personalised to you
In fact, while we all need sleep to restore our physical and mental functions, the amount that we need is largely due to our individual genetic makeup. It’s very rare to need less than six hours, and common to need up to nine. The figure of ‘eight hours' that we’re all so familiar with is in fact an average, not a goal.
The only person who can really accurately monitor if you’re getting enough sleep is you. If you’re regularly feeling tired and grumpy during the day, or you need to hit the caffeine a little too hard, then you may need more sleep than you’re getting. Other factors such as age, general health or periods of high stress may also mean that you need more or less sleep.
What the experts say
According to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley, your individual need for sleep is like height, we are all different and how much we need is to a large degree genetically determined.
However much sleep you need a night, investing in a good quality of rest should be a priority. There are many things we can do to improve sleep quality, including not using electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before bedtime, making sure our rooms are cool, dark and comfortable and have a good bedtime routine. Getting yourself into the right mindset to go to sleep is important, and starts when you change into your pyjamas – choose cool, crisp cotton for perfect temperature control and comfort.