Sleep 101: “How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need?”

The answer has some variability.

When it comes to the “right” amount of hours of sleep we each need, eight is often referred to as the magic number. The truth, however, is that there’s a lot of individual variability when it comes to our sleep needs. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours for adults, but six hours could be normal depending on your age, your sleep-wake biology, and your genetics, Fiona Barwick, Ph.D., director of the Cognitive Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Stanford University, tells Thrive Global. 

“Sleep duration and sleep timing seem to have a genetic basis,” Barwick says. “Deep sleep patterns are one of the most heritable traits of all.”

The best way to know how many hours of sleep you need is through trial and error, and tuning in to how your body feels after sleeping for a certain amount of hours. Most adults aged 26 to 64 need six to 10 hours of sleep.

If that amount of sleep sounds absurd to you, and you feel that you perform best at fewer hours, there is a gene mutation, referred to as the Thatcher gene, that allows some people to function on as little as four-and-a-half hours of sleep. But it’s rare — less than five percent of people are affected.
To ensure you get the right amount of sleep for you, you’ll want to create an optimal sleep environment. To begin, try escorting your devices out of your bedroom each night. Our phones are repositories of our anxieties and fears, especially in times of crisis and constant news updates. Disconnecting will help you sleep better, recharge, and reconnect to your most resilient self.

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