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How Much Sleep Do Adults Need?

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Updated March 21, 2013

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Question: How Much Sleep Do Adults Need?
If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, you may not be getting enough sleep, but just how much sleep do adults need?
Answer:

The amount of sleep that you need is likely determined by your genetics, your age, your overall health, the various demands during your day, and other factors. If you obtain the total sleep time you need, you can avoid sleep deprivation and improve your daytime function. Most people get most of their sleeping done at night, but sleep needs can also be supplemented by taking naps. It is possible to determine the amount of sleep you need by following a simple experiment.

In general, the average healthy adult needs 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night. Experiments have demonstrated that the average amount of sleep needed to avoid detrimental effects on daytime function is about 8 hours and 10 minutes.

If you get less sleep than you need, you are likely to begin accumulating a sleep debt. If you are chronically sleep deprived, you may suffer from adverse consequences like obesity.

Sources:

Kryger, MH et al. "Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine." Elsevier, 5th edition, 2011.

Van Dongen, HPA et al. "The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: dose-response effects on neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation." Sleep 2003;26(2):117-126.

Wehr, TA et al. "Conservation of photoperiod-responsive mechanisms in humans." Am J Physiol 1993;165(4):R846-857.

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