How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need to Feel Rested?

If it is sometimes difficult to judge how much sleep your body needs to feel rested, follow this simple five-step process to determine just that. Discover how to figure out how many hours of sleep you need and when you should go to bed to get enough sleep to feel rested.


Pick a Time to Focus on Your Sleep

Woman napping in hammock
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Set aside a week or two that you can focus on your sleep. It will be important to pick a time that you can sleep as much as you need to without other obligations encroaching on that time. This may be best accomplished during a vacation. Regardless, it is very important that you not allow disruptions or changes to your sleep schedule during this period.


Choose Your Bedtime

Choose a bedtime when you would normally feel sleepy and go to bed
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Select a typical bedtime. It will be important to choose a time that you would likely feel sleepy and would normally go to bed. If you go to bed too early, you'll lie there awake with insomnia, but too late and you'll be overly tired. Whatever time you choose, stick with it, night after night. If you choose to go to bed at 10 p.m., over the next week or two you must go to bed every night at 10 p.m. There's no wiggle room, so choose your bedtime wisely.


Sleep Until You Are No Longer Tired

Sleep into the morning until you are no longer feeling tired
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In some ways this is the easiest and hardest part of the process. Quite simply, you have to allow yourself to sleep in as long as you want. In most cases, this means sleeping until you are no longer tired. You may wake up several times, but if you can still get back to sleep, you should try. When you can no longer physically sleep, you should get up for the day. It is very important that you not awaken with an alarm clock. If you have not set your bedtime early enough, you will likely sleep past the time you may need to get up for work. If this is a problem, you should follow the earlier advice and try this process during a vacation. Once you are up for the day, do not go back to sleep until bedtime. No naps allowed!


Figure Out the Average

Review your average sleep needs and calculate how much sleep you need
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In all likelihood, it will take you a few days to pay off your recent sleep debt. This is the amount of sleep you have been depriving yourself of in the recent past. In order to pay off the debt, you will sleep a little more than you actually need. Gradually, your amount of sleep will begin to even out and approach an average. It could take a week or two before this becomes clear. This average is the amount of sleep that you need to feel rested. Most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep on average. People who are older than age 65 may need 7 to 8 hours to feel rested. Children and adolescents require more sleep than adults.


Arrange Your Sleep Schedule to Meet Your Needs

Maintain a regular sleep schedule to meet the sleep needs you have determined
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Once this process is completed, you will have determined the amount of sleep that you need to feel rested. Now you simply need to set a bedtime that will allow you to get that much sleep. For example, if you need to be awake at 6 a.m. for work and you need 9 hours of sleep, you'll have to be to bed at 9 p.m. This will allow you the time to get the sleep you need, while still waking up in time to start your day. For the best results as part of good sleep habits, it will be important that you keep this sleep schedule every day, including weekends. Many will also benefit from getting 15 to 30 minutes of morning sunlight upon awakening.

A Word From Verywell

Beyond getting enough hours to consistently meet your sleep needs, it is also important to get sleep that is of sufficient quality. If you find that your sleep is not restful, even when you get enough, you might consider being evaluated by a board-certified sleep physician. Certain sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea, can undermine sleep quality and may play a role. Fortunately, effective treatments exist that may optimize the quality of rest you get.

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Article Sources
  • Kryger, MH et al. "Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine." Elsevier, 6th edition, 2016.