Sleeping Well: How Long to Sleep

August 25, 2019

Here at Thomas Lee we love a good night’s sleep but we were curious, how long is a good night’s sleep?  According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is tied to a host of physical and psychological problems, from obesity and heart disease to mood disorders and a shortened life expectancy–you can read more about the risks here.  First, we wanted to know how long science said we should be sleeping and then we wanted to test it on an individual basis to see what worked best for us.

How Long You Need to Sleep Changes by Age

Obviously, sleep is tied to good health, so we to turned to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) to find out how long we should be sleeping.  We’ve read over and over that scientists recommend we get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.  However, while seven to nine hours of sleep is the rule of thumb for adults, according to the NSF the amount of sleep we need each night actually varies significantly by age.  Infants may need twelve to fifteen hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, while teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep at night.

An Experiment to Find Out How Much Sleep You Need

While it’s helpful to know we need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, that’s actually a pretty broad range.  Plus, we try to go to bed around the same time every night and get up around the same time every morning because it helps us sleep better, which we’ve talked about here.  So, we wanted to find out how much sleep each of us needed to feel rested.

We started by setting our alarm clocks for seven hours of sleep per night over a period of five days.  Then, starting on day three, we asked ourselves four questions each day:  First, were we sleepy during the day?  Second, how good did we feel?  Were we thinking clearly (lack of sleep can cause symptoms similar to brain damage!) Lastly, how did our skin look, especially around our eyes?  It’s true, lack of sleep impacts how you look in addition to how you feel.  If the answer to any of these questions was not positive, we would add thirty minutes of sleep for three days and then ask the questions again.  Once we got to the place where we were consistently feeling rested and good, thinking clearly, and looking healthy, we stopped adding sleep time.  For most of us, the optimal amount of sleep was around eight and a half hours a night, though it varied a little for each of us.

Knowledge is Better Sleep

Knowing how long we need to sleep takes the guess work out of bedtime.  Now that we know how much sleep we need each night to feel our best during the day, we find it’s easier to go to bed on time.  Knowledge really is power.

Feel free to try our sleep experiment to determine the amount of sleep you need.  Then, try to get that amount of sleep each night on a consistent basis.  We think getting the right amount of sleep will help you look better, feel better, and think more clearly.

Best,

Elizabeth

p.s. We want you to feel the very best you can.  If you are consistently not sleeping well, go see your doctor.  Also, always follow your doctor’s orders first.