The National Sleep Foundation guidelines serve as a rule-of-thumb for how much sleep children and adults need while acknowledging that the ideal amount of sleep can vary from person to person.
For that reason, the guidelines list a range of hours for each age group. The recommendations also acknowledge that, for some people with unique circumstances, there’s some wiggle room on either side of the range for “acceptable,” though still not optimal, amount of sleep.
Deciding how much sleep you need means considering your overall health, daily activities, and typical sleep patterns. Some questions that you help assess your individual sleep needs include:
- Are you productive, healthy, and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or have you noticed that you require more hours of sleep to get into high gear?
- Do you have coexisting health issues? Are you at higher risk for any disease?
- Do you have a high level of daily energy expenditure? Do you frequently play sports or work in a labor-intensive job?
- Do your daily activities require alertness to do them safely? Do you drive every day and/or operate heavy machinery? Do you ever feel sleepy when doing these activities?
- Are you experiencing or do you have a history of sleeping problems?
- Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
- When you have an open schedule, do you sleep more than you do on a typical workday?
Start with the National Sleep Foundation recommendations and then use your answers to these questions to home in on your optimal amount of sleep.