How Much Sleep do You Need?
There’s a lot of scientific data that suggests most people need between 6.5 and 8 hours of sleep a night. The average American (Canadians are probably very close to the same) receive about 6.8 hours per night.
With that, how much sleep do you need? It turns out that between 7 and 8 hours is optimal for adults aged 18+ (see chart below for more detail)
Less than that, and things basically go off the rails. Health, work performance and basic well being suffers.
Can you Get too Much Sleep?
In fact, yes. We didn’t really see that coming. But seriously, people that exceeded the maximum recommended sleep time for their age, were equally as impaired as those who didn’t get enough sleep.
What’s the Minimum?
What’s the Optimal Sleep, for your Age?
|Average Sleep Needs by Age|
|Age||Hours Needed||May be appropriate|
|Newborn to 3 months old||14 – 17 hrs||11 – 19 hrs|
|4 to 11 months old||12 – 15 hrs||10 – 18 hrs|
|1 to 2 years old||11 – 14 hrs||9 – 16 hrs|
|3 to 5 years old||10 – 13 hrs||8 – 14 hrs|
|6 to 13 years old||9 – 11 hrs||7 – 12 hrs|
|14 to 17 years old||8 – 10 hrs||7 – 11 hrs|
|Young adults (18 to 25 years old)||7 – 9 hrs||6 – 11 hrs|
|Adults (26 to 64 years old)||7 – 9 hrs||6 – 10 hrs|
|Older adults (65+)||7 – 8 hrs||5 – 9 hrs|
|Source: National Sleep Foundation|
Can Genetics Play a Role?
We discovered an interesting story featured on the BBC online. It refers to the fact that people with a specific mutation in a gene known as DEC2.
These people only needed about 4 hours of sleep, and seemed to be as rested and healthy as those of us that need 7-9 hours a night.
In 2009, a woman came into Ying Hui Fu's lab at the University of California, San Francisco, complaining that she always woke up too early. At first, Fu thought the woman was an extreme morning lark – a person who goes to bed early and wakes early.
However, the woman explained that she actually went to bed around midnight and woke at 4am feeling completely alert. It was the same for several members of her family, she said.
We’re pretty sure we don’t have the only-need-4-hours-per-night gene…
Specifically, between where they process sensory information, the hippocampus, and memory.
Your Brain Cleaning & Sweeping
To help us understand exactly what’s going on when we sleep, and why it’s important, we reviewed some articles on the ‘function of sleep’. Without sleep we are tired – we all know that. But what actually is happening on a physiological basis?
It turns out that sleep’s role is to clean out toxins from the brain. Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester authored a study about how the brain cleans itself by sleeping.
“During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours, a study of mice found.”
Some have described this process to a dishwasher. There are proteins left that accumulate through the day – one such residue is called beta amyloid. This substance is a sticky plaque like material, associated with brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Randall Bateman, a neurologist who studies the diagnosis and treatments of Alzheimer’s disease says:
“Beta amyloid concentrations continue to increase while a person is awake.” “And then after people go to sleep that concentration of beta amyloid decreases. This report provides a beautiful mechanism by which this may be happening.”
Ok, we think we understand. Sleep and it cleans your brain and may prevent harmful build up of…toxic sludge! That’s simple.
Like we needed one more reason to sleep. Ah yes.
Brain scientists we are not. But, darn good mattress makers? Yes. Imagine getting an amazing long-lasting mattress, with healthy non-off gassing materials. For about the same prices as an inferior poly-foam, chemical laden mattress?