How much sleep do we actually need?

I, like many other students, am up very late most nights. I constantly hear people talking about how our body needs about 8 hours of sleep a night. I rarely, if ever, get 8 hours of sleep, but I don’t believe this is a problem because I function perfectly fine on a lot less sleep.

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This is a topic that I feel students aren’t very educated about. Most students have also heard of this “8 hour rule”, but I’m sure many don’t follow it either. It is hard to get an adequate amount of sleep for students between classes, homework, jobs, studying, friends, and clubs. Students that get overwhelmed will start to look to places to save time. Students shouldn’t cut out essential things to save time such as eating, showering, or having friends. Instead a student should work on there time management like we have learned in class.

Time management is a great idea for getting more sleep. but how do we know if we need more sleep? Most students in college sleep about 6-7 hours each night. Is that enough? The answer isn’t as black and white as it seems because everyone is different. For some people that is enough, but for others it isn’t. We all need to find our own amount of sleep we need each night.

The issue with not knowing how much sleep you need at night is that you can be building up a sleep debt. This is not good because it can cause many problems for a person. A way to realize if you are adding on to a sleep debt every night is to pay attention to your sleep schedule. An easy indicator is to compare the amount of hours you sleep a night during the week compared to the weekend. People that are accruing a sleep debt generally sleep a lot more on the weekends than they do during the week. Now this might be as good of an indicator because a lot of students don’t sleep much on weekends especially during football season. Another thing to look for would be to notice if you are tired a lot during the day. This is a sign that more sleep is needed.

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Many students resort to napping, but naps may be counterproductive at times. Naps can be used to help get you through the day after a long night, but naps should be short in nature to feel the most refreshed. Longer naps put you into a deep sleep, which can mess up your sleep schedule at night, and leave you not feeling rejuvenated. Naps are useful, if correctly used.

How much sleep do we actually need? We need enough for us to function properly. Some of us need closer to 6 hours a night, while some need closer to 10 hours a night. A person just needs to find their amount that they need in order to not build up a sleep debt each night. Naps can also help this if they are used the right way.

1 thought on “How much sleep do we actually need?

  1. Justin Passaro

    Thomas, I have often wondered if we actually do need the 8 hours of sleep that we were told by our parents and teachers growing up. I personally don’t get an average of 8 hours a sleep a night. I typically am looking at around 5 or 6 hours a night. I do not feel fatigued and I am still able to live a pretty productive life. I think that other factors come into play depending on the person. For instance, athletes who are constantly working out may require more hours of sleep per night in order to feel energized throughout their day. I also found a nice article by the National Sleep Foundation similar to the one you used about napping.

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