Find Out Exactly How Much Sleep You Should Get

Find Out Exactly How Much Sleep You Should Get

Sleep often becomes the first thing you skimp on when things schedules get busy.

But getting enough sleep should be a non-negotiable healthy habit, no matter how much you think you need to do in a day.

How much sleep much is “enough”?

The exact number differs slightly from person to person, but there is a healthy range.

Adults need at least seven hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but 35% of Americans aren’t getting the rest they need.

If you’ve ever wondered “how much sleep should I get?” read on to learn what can happen when you don’t get enough — and how to rest better.

Young woman waking up in the morning and rubbing her eyes.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

The National Sleep Foundation wants us to aim for seven to nine hours a night, and Dr. Meeta Singh, M.D., a psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist, agrees.

She underscores that everyone’s needs are different — but that doesn’t mean five hours of sleep a night is enough (even when you think it is).

Sleep deprivation “affects our self-perception, and we aren’t always aware of just how much it is impacting us,” explains Dr. Joshua Roland, a board-certified sleep physician at University of California Los Angeles.

If you feel fine when you’re active or interacting with people but struggle with sleepiness when you’re in quiet or sedentary situations, Dr. Singh says that’s a sign that you’re not getting enough ZZZs.

Genetics, increased physical activity, and certain health conditions can cause you to need more sleep, adds Dr. Roland.

How can you tell if you’re getting enough sleep?

Dr. Singh says it “depends on if you feel productive, healthy, and happy on the amount of sleep you are getting.”

Another giveaway: You sleep in to play “catch up” on the weekends, she says.

Tired mother, trying to pour coffee in the morning.

What Happens When I Don’t Sleep Enough?

“Every aspect of your health suffers when you don’t get enough sleep,” says Dr. Singh. (Yes, even if you think you feel fine.)

Just a few nights of sub-par sleep “slows down your mental performance and reaction time, reduces your ability to form memories and learn, alters your immune system function and endocrine hormones, and increases your risk of sports injuries,” Dr. Roland explains.

According to Dr. Singh, the impact on our immune system make it more likely that we’ll get sick and make it harder to recover if we are already sick.

Long-term sleep deprivation is worse.

“Your risk for heart diseaseweight gaindiabetes, and cancer all increase” when you consistently don’t sleep enough, adds Dr. Singh.

You’re also more likely to experience a mental health issue.

Young man lying in bed at night and using his smart phone

How Can I Improve My Sleep Habits?

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

Consistency is key, even on the weekends. Having a sleep schedule “can help strengthen our internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and allow us to get healthier sleep,” says Dr. Roland.

2. Manage your bedroom environment

Make sure your room is completely dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature, Dr. Singh advises.

Warmer temperatures may cause lighter sleep, so turn down the thermostat if you can.

3. Limit activities in your bed

Your bed should just be for sex and sleep, according to Dr. Roland.

Watching Netflix or working from bed “takes away from our drive to sleep there.”

4. Get exercise and sunlight during the day

Natural sunlight directly influences sleep by affecting our circadian rhythm.

Exercise can improve sleep in people with sleep issues. Just make sure you’re exercising at least several hours before bed.

5. Wind down before bed

“It’s important to give ourselves time at the end of the day to bring things down mentally and get our minds primed for sleep,” Dr. Roland says.

An hour before bed, try something relaxing like yoga for gratitudemeditation, reading a book, or reciting positive mantras.

Just make sure to avoid screen time.

Looking for more expert tips? Head over to BODi and find out how BODi’s at-home workouts, nutrition programs, and online community work together to help you reach your health and fitness goals.