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How Much Sleep is Enough?

If you sometimes struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep, you’re not alone!

Did you know:

You may need fewer than 8 hours of sleep, or you may need more.
It’s a myth that we all need 8 hours’ sleep a night. In fact we all have our individual sleep needs, just as we have different heights and shoe sizes. Anywhere between 3 and 11 hours is considered normal, with the British average being 7 hours, 04 minutes a night (though this can vary between sources).
The important thing is to ensure that you get the hours of sleep that you as an individual need. If you’re someone who only needs 3 hours’ sleep, you’ll find it difficult to sleep for 8. Whereas people who need 11 hours’ sleep could cause themselves problems if they try to get by on less.
Margaret Thatcher was famous for thriving on just 4 hours’ sleep a night.
Not getting a full 8 hours doesn’t mean you’re not getting enough sleep.
If you’re tired and can’t concentrate during the day, you could probably do with more sleep.
We also need different amounts of sleep depending on our age:
  • Babies need about 17 hours each day.
  • Older children, including teenagers, need about 9 or 10 hours a night.
  • Most adults need between 7-8 hours a night.
  • Older people may need the same amount of sleep, but will often have one period of deep sleep, after which they wake more easily.
  • How can you tell if you’re getting enough sleep?
Everybody’s different and some bodies need more sleep than others. The trick to recognising whether you’re suffering from a lack of sleep is to look at your energy levels throughout the day. Ask yourself some questions:
  • Stimulant dependency - How many coffees or teas do I need to make it through the day?
  • Lack of concentration - Do I find myself drifting off unintentionally?
  • Lethargy and sluggishness - Am I feeling sleepy or desiring sleep at inappropriate times?
  • Looking tired - Is my skin losing its lustre? Are there bags or dark shadows under my eyes?
  • Irritability and mood swings - Am I over-reacting to things?
If the answer is “yes” to some of these, the chances are you may not be getting enough zzzzs. Without sufficient sleep you may find everyday tasks become harder to cope with. Remember, the odd night without sleep may make you feel tired the next day but won’t cause any lasting harm!