Understanding recommended sleep ranges

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recently released its new recommendations for healthy sleep duration, and they will hopefully go a long way to help further dispel the “8 hour myth“.

The basis of the myth is this:  Many insomniacs believe they will be a wreck the next day if they don’t get a rock solid 8 hours of sleep every night.  The mistaken idea is that 8 hours is somehow a magic right number that is necessary to sufficiently reset the mind and body to perform well the next day.  That belief is false, as the new NSF recommendations show.sleeprecommendations2015


So instead of a single number, the NSF (and most sleep experts) recommend a range of healthy sleep duration.  As the chart shows, for most adults this can be as little as six hours or as much as 11 hours of sleep per night.

Yet because these ranges are so broad they may not be much help in determining what’s best for your own unique needs.  If you only need six hours and try to force 10, you’ll probably have to endure a lot of unnecessary and counterproductive tossing and turning in bed.

The amount of sleep that’s right for you depends on many interrelated variables.  Your sleep requirement is determined in part by your age, your metabolism, your level of normal physical activity, your diet, your occupation, how much stress you experience on any given day, and many other factors that are unique to only you.

In the Sleep Training System, there is only one sleep number we are concerned with:  what’s right for you.  And we use interactive sleep logs to help you determine that.  By using this tool, you make gradual adjustments in your sleep schedule to determine how much time in bed is best for you and your unique needs.

The criteria we suggest for determining optimal sleep duration are largely your sleep efficiency, which the sleep logs help you calculate, combined with how alert you feel, your mood, and how well you are functioning during waking hours.  You are the best judge of this.

Eight hours may be an average to compare yourself to, but as these new NSF recommendations show, there’s nothing written in stone that says it’s right for you or anyone else.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia, sleep

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3 Comments on “Understanding recommended sleep ranges”

  1. […] you want to sleep, and what hours you want to be active and awake, keeping in mind the normal recommended range of 7 to 9 hours for most adults.  Then set and keep a consistent sleep-wake schedule 7 days a week […]

  2. […] of sleep deprivation.  These results have led some sleep specialists to question if the often recommended sleep ranges of 7 to 9 hours might be considerably too […]

  3. […] be cautious about reducing to less than 7 hours  in bed, which is at the lower end of the normal range for most […]

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