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Sleep Quantity – How Much is Enough?

how many hours of sleep

How much sleep is enough?

This is a question many people ask. Can you get by on just five hours of sleep each night? Can you make up for lost sleep by sleeping all weekend? How much sleep is enough?

Contrary to popular belief, the amount of sleep you may be able to get by on is not necessarily the same as the amount you need for health and wellbeing. Many adults sleep for fewer than seven hours of sleep every night. This is actually detrimental – even more so if the hours of sleep achieved are not of high quality.

While 3% of the population worldwide does carry a gene which enables optimal functioning with just six hours of sleep each night, the vast majority of adults need at least seven hours of deep sleep achieving proper sleep cycles to function well and maintain health.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Do you wake up easily in the morning?
Do you feel energetic and alert throughout the day?
Do you feel like you need to nap after lunch?
Do you doze off in front of the TV in the evening?

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may:

  • Need an alarm to wake up in the morning
  • Keep hitting the snooze button
  • Feel sleepy or sluggish after lunch
  • Need an afternoon nap
  • Feel drowsy in class, meetings, warm rooms, sitting in the sun, or when you’re driving
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Doze off while watching TV or reading
  • Fall asleep within 5 minutes of going to bed

How Many Hours of Sleep is Enough?

According to medical experts, people do have varied personal requirements for sleep. There are basic guidelines which apply to all of us, and these are very much age-dependent.
The average healthy adult needs seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night, or within each twenty-four-hour period to function properly and maintain health and wellbeing.
The average amount of sleep required by age after early childhood:

  • Child (6-13) 9-11 hours (range 7-12)
  • Young Adolescent (14-17) 8-10 hours (range 7-11)
  • Young Adult (18-25) 7-9 hours (range 6-11)
  • Adult (26 – 64) 7-9 hours (range 6-10)
  • Senior (over 65) 7-8 hours (range 5-9)

Pregnant women need more sleep (especially in the first and third trimesters).

People recovering from illness or injury also require more sleep.

Seniors often struggle to sleep for extended periods, for an array of reasons; this sleep deficit may be mitigated by having a nap during the day.

(Fun Fact: our ancestors of a couple of hundred years ago actually slept in two “shifts”, going to bed soon after dark, sleeping for a few hours, getting up for a couple of hours, then going back to sleep until dawn.)

Why is Getting Enough Sleep Important?

Getting the right number of hours of sleep is only part of the equation. You also need to make sure that your sleep is of high quality.

If you’re lying awake, restless, just dozing, or constantly waking, it does not matter how long you’re in bed each night. Your sleep quality will be compromised if you experience this – and it is every bit as damaging as not getting enough hours of sleep.

Your sleep cycles determine the quality of your sleep – and different stages of sleep each serve their purpose.

  • Light Sleep initiates the sleep cycle. Your body relaxes, heart rate and breathing slow, temperature drops, and you wake easily.
  • Deep sleep is restorative and rejuvenating. Tissue growth, cell repair, hormone release, and long, slow brain waves occur. Deep sleep occurs late at night. If you are woken during this stage, you will feel groggy and disoriented.
  • REM (dreaming) sleep is important for re-energising the mind and mood. REM stages of sleep are longer in the morning. Brain activity is high and your heart rate, blood flow, temperature, and breathing rate increase. The body becomes immobile and you may have vivid dreams. Time spent in the REM stage becomes shorter with age.

Sleep deprivation leads to negative implications for your health and wellbeing, including:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability/Moodiness
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Weight Gain
  • Malaise
  • Issues with Memory and Concentration
  • Premature Ageing
  • Lower Immunity = More Infections
  • Increased Risk of Accidents
  • Higher Risk of Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Stroke, Cancer, Diabetes, and Dementia

Snoring and Sleep

Snoring is one of the biggest disrupters of quality sleep and it affects an enormous number of New Zealanders. Snoring happens when the airways are compromised during sleep, inhibiting breathing. The snorer will struggle to breathe, eventually gasp for air, and wake up. This disrupts the normal sleep cycles.

Snoring directly causes fragmented and restless sleep. Even more concerning, half of regular snorers in NZ have sleep apnoea, which is a serious medical condition with major health implications.

Sleep Better – Choose ApneaRX

ApneaRX is an effective and affordable solution to snoring. It is worn in the mouth during sleep and gently realigns the lower jaw, moving it very slightly forward to help keep the airways open and reduce or stop snoring.

To help achieve a better night’s sleep, sleeping deeper and for longer, please visit our website or call 0800 111 325.