Adult sleep requirement varies from one person to the next and young people tend to need more than the elderly. Generically speaking we could say that adults sleep typically 7-8 hours per night. But as so often in life there are always exceptions. Some people do need far less sleep than this, and some need more. On top of this, sleep is not just about quantity. Sometimes we feel more refreshed after 6 hours sleep than 8 hours sleep. Sleep quality varies as well.
Some experts speak about two types of sleep: core sleep versus optional sleep. Core sleep is the first three sleep cycles (the initial 4-5 hours of sleep) necessary for human beings to function normally and properly. Optional sleep is the ‘nice to have’ sleep that we can reasonably do without – another ~4 hours. Please bear in mind that some people survive with 3-5 hours sleep a night. Genetic differences explain the biggest deviations.
Sleep economy pressures
Some experts also claim that the business voices of the sleep economy have introduced a concept of a ‘must-have-8-hours-each-night’ ethos even though adult sleep requirements vary so much individually. When people start to worry about their sleep (worries related to sleep is the biggest reason for insomnia), their sleep starts to deteriorate and they start to rely more on sleep aids. The viscous circle is ready and adults sleeping perfectly well are suddenly part of the fast growing sleep economy.
It’s important to learn to listen to yourself, learn more about sleep and what works for you and preferably not to worry about sleep. After all, it’s such a pleasure!