How many hours of sleep is best?

The great debate= how many hours of sleep is best?

Unfortunately, there is no single best answer to this question.

Some people can function on less, while other people may need many more hours. 7-9 hours per night can be used as a rough guideline but this doesn’t take into account sleep quality, waking during the night, and time taken to fall asleep.

Why is sleep important?

Sleep is super important to allow us to function at our best during the day- from energy levels to concentration to cognitive function, sleep is fundamental in so many ways. 

While low energy levels may be expected after a poor night’s sleep, have you ever noticed yourself feeling hungrier or reaching for sweet treats after a night of little or poor sleep? This could be related to the appetite regulation that sleep brings. Poor sleep or lack of sleep can cause an increase in the hunger hormone, ghrelin, and a decrease in the fullness hormone, leptin, resulting in increased hunger. Other consequences of lack of sleep can be increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity, poor mood, lack of concentration, and reduced cognitive performance.

Making sleep priority

Keen to improve your sleep but don’t know where to start? Having regular sleeping and waking hours can make falling asleep and waking rested a whole lot easier. Consider what time you need to be up and the morning and work back from there to find the ideal time you need to be in bed to achieve 8 hours of sleep. While it may not be possible to reset your circadian rhythm (‘body’s internal clock) overnight, setting up a consistent bedtime routine can help get you in the rhythm. Having some wind-down time before bed, e.g., reading a book may help you switch off, ready to sleep.

Other things to consider to ensure a good night’s sleep are:

  • the temperature of the room (cool is best)
  • when you last ate (ideally not too close to going to bed but also ensuring you’re not hungry in bed)
  • screen time before bed (the blue light from TV/phones/any screens) can impair your ability to get to sleep)

Sleep is a big factor when it comes to health and it costs nothing! So, if you are focusing on your health, consider how much sleep you are getting, how long it takes you to get to sleep, how often you wake up and how rested you feel on waking.

References
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

About the author

Cheyenne Holman

Cheyenne Holman

Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)
Accredited Sports Dietitian
Certified Personal Trainer
Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher