Everyone has heard that the ideal amount of sleep is 8 hours every night. The truth is everyone is different. Some people function just fine on as little as 4-5 hours of sleep. On the other hand, there are just as many people out there who sleep 9-10 hours every night. So knowing how much sleep you need as an individual is the most important factor in determining if you are or aren’t getting enough sleep.
How much sleep are you getting now?
The first step is to determine exactly how much sleep you are currently getting. Most people tend to think, “I go to sleep at this time and I wake up at this time, so I got this amount of sleep.” It’s not that simple, as there’s the time it takes you to fall asleep and it also does not count the number of times you wake up or amount of time you were awake before going back to sleep. Once you factor that time in, the 8 hours you thought you got may be more like 6 or 7 hours.
Is it enough sleep for you?
There’s a short test you can take that will determine if you are getting less than your ideal amount of sleep. Ask yourself the following questions; Do I need an alarm clock to wake up at the right time? Do I have trouble getting out of bed every morning? Do I get tired quickly when driving? Do I have trouble remembering things or concentrating? Do I fall asleep as soon as I get in bed? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you are not getting enough sleep.
Determine if you are getting enough sleep.
On average most people need to get another hour to an hour and a half more sleep than they are currently getting. You can determine this by going to bed around a time you normally can fall asleep that is close to 8 hours before you need to be up. Stick to going to bed around this time and take note of when you wake up. You may wake up early for a few days because you are used to the shorter sleeping schedule, but if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you will begin to sleep longer. Once you start sleeping longer start going to bed 30 minutes earlier for a week, then 15 minutes earlier the next week. Keep adding 15 minutes a week until you are able to wake up when you need to and have energy through the whole day. You can also make sure you have the correct amount of sleep each night by going to bed 15-30 minutes late one night, and see if you feel drowsy the next day, if you do, you know you are getting the right amount of sleep.1
If you are one of the lucky few that are consistently getting the proper sleep they need to make it through the day alert, focused, and in the proper mood, congratulations. Share your suggestions, methods, or tips for how you get the right amount of sleep in the comments.
1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.