How much sleep do you need?

A recent post in the New York Times discussed the amount of sleep needed for optimal function.  Many people think the can “get by” or teach themselves to need less sleep.  Numerous studies have shown that people do NOT adapt to less sleep than needed.  Symptoms of sleep deprivation may be subtle and can include decreased concentration and irritability.  Over-all performance declines with sleep deprivation.

Most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night.  The minimum amount of sleep to function ‘normally’ is thought to be six hours.  Those over 65 need slightly less sleep, about seven to eight hours.  Teenagers require more sleep, eight to ten hours, and school age children need nine to eleven hours of sleep per night.

It has been suggested that extended vacations are the best time to assess the amount of sleep that you need.  After a few days, when you’ve caught up on ‘lost sleep’, the amount of time you end up sleeping is a good measure of how much sleep you need every night.

Sleep is NOT a waste of time.  It is restorative and necessary to consolidate memories and comprehension.  Far from being unproductive, adequate sleep leads to increased daytime productivity.

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