How many hours did you sleep last night? Was it too much, too little or just right? Did you feel lethargic or refreshed in the morning? If you’re thinking the former, you may be contemplating: “How much sleep should I be getting?” What is “just right?”.

And you’re definitely on to something important. We know the benefits that quality, consistent sleep has on our health vitality, brain function and energy levels. The amount of sleep we get significantly affects our overall well-being. But once life and responsibilities get in the way we might be putting off our sleep and prioritizing other things.

You Need to Prioritize Sleep

Knowing for sure how many hours of sleep adults need is a point of contention. While some may feel energized on six hours of sleep, it might take others nine hours to feel awake. In our busy, hustle, go-go society it may seem from the outside that you can feel your best in just a few hours. But this is highly unlikely and pretty dangerous for your health and performance.

Before you start to compare against what your friends are saying or what a top CEO is suggesting, you should look at your own needs first. You need to look at sleep in a holistic way. It’s just as important to balance sleep as it is healthy foods and regular exercise.

There are research based recommended hours for different age groups as a good starting point. But this should also be paired with evaluating other factors such as your work schedule, lifestyle and medical needs.

How much sleep do I really need?

The amount of sleep we need changes over the course of our lives. This has a lot to do with the varying needs of sleep dependent on age. There is not going to be an exact decimal number of hours but based on expert research, there are recommended hours for healthy invididuals in each age bracket. Here is a guideline according to the National Sleep Foundation to use as a starting reference point.

Age Group Recommended Hours
Newborns (0-3 months) 14-17
Infants (4-11 months) 12-15
Toddlers (1-2 years) 11-14
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 10-13
School-aged children (6-13 years) 9-11
Teenagers (14-17 years) 8-10
Young adults (18-25 years) 7-9
Adults (26-64 years) 7-9

Everybody’s sleep needs are different

As you can tell, the adult age bracket is pretty wide. And while the recommended hours of sleep for adults is seven to nine, that’s just the sweet spot. Ultimately, the need for sleep is not one size fits all. There are also other factors at play that may change the amount of sleep you need or how much sleep you should be getting:

How can I get the sleep I need?

Here are some best practices you can incorporate into your routines on your own to accommodate your body’s need for adequate sleep:

  • Limit your caffeine intake after the morning hours

  • Exercise every day
  • Test waking up without an alarm clock
  • Cultivate a relaxing bedtime routine about 30 minutes before you close your eyes
  • Stay away from screens and electronics before bed
  • Choose a comfortable mattress to sleep on

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night

Assess where you’re at in life and observe how you respond to different amounts of sleep. These are good habits to help you pave the way for quality, consistent sleeping patterns. But if you’re not getting enough restful sleep, talking to your doctor or a sleep professional will help you address the root causes so you can get the sleep you need.