How Much Sleep Does an Adult Really Need? The Answer May Just Surprise You

How much sleep do we really need? This is an age-old question that, despite countless sleep studies, still does not have a definitive answer. If you ask most doctors, they will tell you that every adult needs enough sleep to feel “well rested” upon waking and to not need a nap in the middle of the day, but what does well-rested really feel like? Because of today’s go-go-go lifestyle, most adults couldn’t tell you, as most get just enough sleep to function, and that’s it.

A go-go-go attitude isn’t the only thing that affects sleep quality. The blue-light from our cell-phones, energy drinks, alarm clocks and other environmental factors interfere with the body’s natural sleep clock, making it difficult for the body to fall asleep when it should and to wake up when it’s ready. Additionally, too many of us fail to provide ourselves with comfortable sleep environments. Uncomfortable beds, wrong pillows, lack of quiet and too much light are all factors that can negatively impact sleep quality, yet they are all factors that most people ignore. Each of these factors leads to one thing: not enough sleep and/or poor sleep quality.

Adults that do not get adequate sleep pay the price in several areas of their lives. In this guide, we will discuss how much sleep adults really need, what factors affect the amount YOU need and how your life—and your health—may suffer if you accumulate a sleep debt.

Doctor’s Orders: Adults Need 7 to 9 Hours of Sleep Each Night

For the longest time, we have been told that six to eight hours of sleep is sufficient, but that is not the case. Recent studies suggest that adults could benefit from seven to nine of hours of sleep each night, and some as much as 11 hours. Of course, just like infants require more sleep than toddlers, and toddlers more than school-aged children, the amount of sleep you need all depends on various individual factors, including age, genetics, your overall health and the various demands of your day.  

Age probably plays the greatest role in the amount of sleep you require. Young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 could benefit from up to 11 hours of sleep each day, adults between 26 and 64 up to 10 hours and adults 65 and older up to nine hours. While sleep needs certainly do decrease with age, most older adults may still require seven or more hours of sleep each night. Because older people tend to suffer from insomnia, they can supplement their sleep needs with daytime naps.

Genetics also play a role in how much sleep you need to function at your best. For instance, the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that a gene exists that enables an adult to do well on just six hours of sleep, but only about three percent of the population possesses this gene. That means for 97 percent of us, six hours of sleep doesn’t even come close to cutting it. That said, your particular gene makeup may require that you get 10 hours of sleep each night, while your brother, sister, mom or dad may only need the minimum seven.

The Consequences of Inadequate Sleep

​Poor sleep quality or not enough sleep can lead to sleep deprivation, which manifests itself in much more serious ways than a few embarrassing yawns at work. Sleep deprivation is a very real phenomenon, one that affects nearly one-third of American adults. Sleep deprivation can result in physical and psychological effects, such as obesity, lack of coordination, reduced judgement and slow reaction times. Some of the more common consequences of lack of quality sleep include the following:

•    Moodiness and irritability
•    Lethargy, fatigue and lack of motivation
•    Decreased sex drive
•    Premature skin aging
•    Obesity or inexplicable weight gain
•    Increased risk of depression
•    Impaired brain activity, memory problems and lack of concentration
•    Impaired motor skills
•    Reduced problem-solving skills, difficulty making decisions and lack of creativity
•    Inability to adequately cope with stress and other difficult emotions
•    Weakened immune system
•    Increased risk of serious health problems, including but not limited to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer

Signs of Sleep Deprivation

​If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body WILL tell you in so many ways. Do not ignore the signs, as doing so could mean the difference between living your best life and living life in the slow lane. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it may be time to slow down and revise your sleep habits:

•    You rely on an alarm clock to wake up on time.
•    You hit the snooze button one too many times.
•    You don’t ​feel like, or have a difficult time, getting out of bed in the morning.
•    You feel sluggish all afternoon, or as if you are in a daze.
•    You feel yourself nodding off (or wanting to) during lectures or meetings.  
•    You get drowsy after eating or while driving.
•    You fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing.  
•    You find yourself wishing you could take a nap throughout the day.
•    You sleep your weekend mornings away.
•    You’re out within five minutes of your head hitting the pillow.

If you just read that list and thought, “Sleep deprivation? That’s just how I normally am,” we hate to break it to you, but you’re sleep deprived. It’s not normal to fall asleep within five minutes of lying down. In fact, Sleep.org suggests that it should take the average, non-sleep deprived person between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep at night, and if it takes you less time, well then, your body’s saying something. Also, though alarm clocks have become the norm, if your body got sufficient sleep, it would wake naturally after seven to 11 hours.

​A Real Solution to a Nationwide Problem

If you experience any of the symptoms of sleep deprivation, or if you’ve noticed recently that you’re more emotional than normal, not as quick on your toes and have put on a pound or two, your body may be trying to tell you something—that it needs more sleep. That said, getting more sleep is easier said than done. If you have trouble getting your requisite seven to 11 hours, invest in NutriSleep, a natural sleep remedy that will boost your sleep numbers and allow you to wake up feeling ready to take on the world. Learn more about NutriSleep and how it can help you today.

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