How much sleep do you need? The EXACT time you should be in bed to feel well-rested

6 mins read


While regularly not getting enough sleep might be normal for you, this is sleep deprivation and the physical, emotional and cognitive effects can damage you in the short term and long term. You’ll have less energy in the day, excessive sleepiness that makes it hard to focus, your reaction time is worsened, you may have irritability and mood problems and it can worsen your memory, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities. All of these things can ruin your performance at work or school, make you unhappy, and put you at risk of accidents. Here’s the EXACT number of hours you should be in bed to feel well-rested.

Over the long term, lack of sleep has been tied to a wide range of health problems, from weight gain and obesity to diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

A less commonly spoken about issue linked to sleep deprivation is mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and reduced quality of life.

You don’t have to be an expert on the sleep cycle stages, but it’s important to understand that you need to move through all four stages – non-rapid eye movement, light sleep, deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep.

It is believed that NREM and REM are the phases most connected to the ‘refreshed’ feeling you get after a great night’s sleep.

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How much sleep do you need?

Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night, according to the NHS.

Newborn babies need 14 to 17 hours and when they get to four to 11 months, this drops to 12 to 15.

Toddlers should sleep for 11 to 14 hours, and children between three and five years old will need between 10 and 13 hours.

Children aged between six and 13 need nine to 11 hours, while teenagers should get between eight and 10 hours.

The reason why it’s hard to pinpoint an exact amount of time per age group is that everybody needs a slightly different amount to function properly.

The Sleep Charity explains that the amount of sleep you need depends on your age, sex, health and other elements.

Sometimes we can sleep for eight hours and still feel exhausted, and there’s a reason behind this.

Sleep quality is more important than sleep quantity, as this determines how rested we feel when we wake up.

If you’ve slept for long enough but your sleep was interrupted, you won’t have gone through all four sleep stages enough times.

The Sleep Charity explains: “Each sleep cycle lasts around one and a half hours, and in order to feel fully rested and refreshed when we wake up, we must experience all four stages.

“A full night’s sleep will include five or six cycles, while a disturbed, restless night consists of fewer.”

Healthline adds: “Ideally, you want to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle instead of in the middle of it.

“You usually feel more refreshed and energized if you wake up at the end of a sleep cycle.”

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The EXACT number of hours you should be in bed to feel well-rested

How long it takes you to move through each sleep phase and cycle is highly individual.

Trial and error is the best way to figure out how much sleep you work best on.

For example, jot down how much sleep you got one night and then how you feel the next day.

When you find the right amount of sleep time, stick to it by setting a regular bedtime where possible.

However, if you want some guidance, Healthline’s sleep calculator works out your bedtime based on your wake-up time and the individual completing five or six 90 minute sleep cycles, while allowing for 15 minutes to fall asleep:



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