How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Research Suggests That Sleep Requirements Vary From Person to Person

From the WebMD Archives


Determining Your Sleep Needs

Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleepand the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz., says “there is still quite a bit of mystery to sleep and everybody’s sleep need is individualized and will change over the course of time.”

The key is to find out how much sleep you need to function, he says. “I don’t think there is one answer.”

Breus suggests this test to see how much sleep you need: If you need an alarm clock to wake, try going to sleep 15 minutes earlier. Do you still need an alarm clock? If you do, push your bedtime up another 15 minutes, he says. Do this until you no longer need an alarm to wake up. This exercise should give you a pretty good idea about the amount of sleep you need per night.

Another question to ask, Breus says, is how much coffee you are drinking. If you are pouring on the caffeine to stay awake, you are probably not getting enough sleep, he says.

If you get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night and are not waking up feeling refreshed, see a sleep specialist, as there may be issues such as sleep apnea that are affecting your sleep quality, he says. Sleep apnea is marked by intermittent pauses in breathing during sleep.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 30, 2010



Michael H. Bonnet, PhD, professor, neurology, Wright State University School of Medicine; director, sleep laboratory, Dayton Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ohio.

Michael Breus, PhD, clinical director, sleep division, Arrowhead Health, Glendale, Ariz.

National Sleep Foundation White Paper: “How Much Sleep Do Adults Need?”

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