It is often thought that the standard 8 hours of sleep per night was what we all needed. This is not actually true. In fact, the number of hours sleep you require is dependant on each individual person. According to a number of sleep studies, the average number of optimal hours sleep per night across the test population is closer to seven hours per night.

What does Science suggest?

In simple terms, the amount of sleep each individual requires is the number which allows each of us to wake refreshed and remaining alert throughout the day without the need for caffeine or other stimulants. One frequently cited 20-year study completed in 2002 analyzed self-reported sleep logs and found that those individuals who were asleep for seven hours per night lived longer than those who slept eight hours or more. Of course, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. 

Scientists have found that for troubled sleeps (including the elderly and insomnia sufferers), it can make sense to restrict sleep to less than the individuals normal sleeping pattern – spending excessive time in bed can elicit daytime lethargy and exacerbate sleep issues.

How much sleep do you need?

A great way to figure out how much sleep you actually need is to give yourself a few days off or wait for an upcoming vacation. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up with no alarm clock for several days. After a week of regular bedtimes and unlimited sleeping in, you should find your optimal and ideal amount of sleep – which will likely fall between seven and nine hours.

If on the other hand, you are a long sleeper and consistently get 8 or 9 hours sleep, it is not recommend to cut this down. If you cut down the number of hours you are sleeping it could have a detrimental effect on your days energy and lethargy.

Changing sleeping habits

As just mentioned above, it is not recommended to cut down the number of hours you get, but what if you are looking to find out if you need less time out cold? Due to genetics, there is no way to decrease the amount of sleep that you need to function daily. If you feel the most on your game after an eight or nine hour sleep, that is the reality.