Are you looking for a perfect answer to how much sleep you really need?

Sleeping Cat

How much sleep do you really need?

One of the most common debates is how much sleep you need.

(I am mostly going to refer to night-time sleep here, but this also applies to those who work nights and sleep in the daytime consistently. Shift workers who alternate days & nights are a whole different topic.)

There are TONS of opinions on sleep. I find whenever there are lots of opinions, it usually means there is no perfect solution.

The short answer to how much you need:
Probably more than you think.

Rather than trying to fit into a one-size-fits-all, my goal for you is to really learn how to listen to your body so YOU can figure out what YOU need.

Here is an easy guide to go by:

You are getting the right amount IF –

  • You fall asleep easily at bedtime
  • You wake naturally without or before an alarm
  • You feel refreshed when you get up
  • You can fully function throughout the day

If you can’t say yes to all of these, then you most likely need more sleep on a regular basis.

Now, there are some who sleep too many hours and feel like they can’t rouse themselves – there may be more going on metabolically which probably needs looking into.

Other questions that will help determine how much sleep you need:

What season of life are you in? 
(pregnancy, new parents, busy working, retired – different stages have different needs)

What stressors are going on?
(stress automatically implies needing more sleep)

Are your other lifestyle factors pretty healthy?
(maybe you do okay with the amount you get)

Are you overcoming an illness or recovering from an injury or surgery?
(definitely more rest – sleep is healing time)

The second big debate is to nap or not to nap.

Again, short answer – it depends.

Some people do great with a nap and for others it throws off their night-time sleep.

Here is one quick question to determine your own decision about napping:

If you do nap, can you still fall asleep easily and sleep soundly through the night?

If yes, then naps are helpful to you.
If no, then maybe try to hold out during the day and go to bed a little earlier instead.

How long should you nap?

A quick catnap is about 10 to 20 minutes, and for most people, can be very refreshing. Typically it’s best to stay under 20 minutes if you use naps on a regular basis for an afternoon pick me up.

I call long naps of 1 1/2 to 2 hours “restorative naps.”

If you are in need of a restorative nap, PLEASE allow yourself this time without feeling guilty or worried about it.

For most people, I don’t recommend naps in between these times – such as 30 minutes to just over an hour. You will most likely enter the middle stages of the sleep cycle which can make you feel really groggy if you wake during them. This will defeat the purpose of the nap.

How to adjust your bedtime

Some patients are resistant to going to bed earlier…

“I couldn’t possibly get to bed an hour earlier than I do now, there is too much to do!”

Our bedtime is a habit just like anything else.

The easiest way to change a habit is by baby steps. For example, bump your bedtime up by only 5 or 10 minutes for the first couple of weeks until you get used to it. Then bump it up another 5 or 10 until it’s the time you want it to be.

Next, we’ll dive into some options for sleep support if you feel like you need more help.

And with that, I will wish you a good night and sweet dreams.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.   See my disclaimer.

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