minimal sleep

What Is The Minimal Amount Of Sleep You Need To Function?

Can you get away with less sleep than you need?

We’ve discussed how much sleep you need (at least seven hours, for most people), but often our real question is the flip side: Can you get away with less than the optimal amount, or even replace sleeping with a series of round-the-clock naps?

Everybody’s Needs Are Different, but Six Hours Is Probably the Minimum

“We should not be talking about how much sleep people need in any way that’s different from how many calories we need,” says sleep specialist Dr. W. Christopher Winter. Just like 2,000 calories is not the right amount for everyone, neither is a one-size-fits-all number like eight hours of sleep. If you are sick or if you exercise a lot, you may need more rest. And as you age, you will probably need less.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should be sleeping between seven and nine hours each night. The Foundation’s panel reviewed studies and used their own clinical experience to come up with those numbers since there is no way to conclusively determine how many hours an individual needs. Seven to nine fits with the available evidence.

The panel labeled a wider range, six to ten hours, as “may be appropriate.” That range is for adults aged 26 to 64; young adults may be fine with eleven hours, and nine is tops for those 65 and over. That doesn’t mean everybody would be fine with six hours. It means that some six-hour sleepers may have sleep problems, but for others, six hours just happens to be what their body needs.

Dr. Winter previously reminded us that people often get more sleep than they think they do, so check in with your Fitbit if these numbers don’t sound realistic.

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