Sleep Calculator: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Sleep is sacred. Typically, I like to prioritize getting a full eight hours. Being a busy masters student, I’ve had to get used to spending long nights surrounded by dusty books and seemingly endless sleeplessness. There’s always a silver lining, though, and my lack of sleep has helped me understand just how important rest is for both our bodies and minds.

Sleep is extremely important for maintaining strong physical and mental health, especially for kids and teens. If you’re the parent of a teen, I’m sure you’ve experienced the horror of a tired teen first hand. I’ve never parented teenagers, but I have been that tired teen, and let’s just say that it isn’t pretty. 

The best way to avoid grumpy kids is by teaching them about the importance of quality sleep. But how much sleep do we really need, and what’s the best way to get that sweet, sweet, high-quality sleep? Let’s find out!

How many hours of sleep do I need?

As we get older, the time we need to spend sleeping decreases (even if the time we wish we were sleeping increases). Parents know that kids need quite a bit more sleep than adults, otherwise those kiddos get a little grumpy, but how much sleep do adults need? 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a great sleep calculator chart that shows how much sleep people of different ages need. Check it out!

Which is better: a consistent sleep schedule or sleeping as needed?

This one’s easy! A consistent sleep schedule is far better for your physical and mental health than haphazardly sleeping whenever you feel tired.

It’s due to your natural circadian rhythm that sleeping as needed doesn’t work. The circadian rhythm is our 24-hour cycle of wakefulness and sleep—an important cycle that regulates many of our bodies’ natural systems. Upon waking up your body releases cortisol, a hormone that tells your brain to wake up and remain alert. About 12 to 14 hours after that first surge of cortisol, your circadian rhythm tells your body to release melatonin, the hormone that encourages sleep.

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule resets your circadian rhythm and leads to increased mental and physical health. To maintain your sleep cycle, we recommend:

  • Waking up at the same time every day
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Having a bedtime routine (and sticking to it)
  • Going to bed at a consistent time

One of the best ways to keep your bedtime consistent is to keep your bedroom screen free. This is doubly true for kids. The blue light that emanates from screens decreases melatonin levels in both kids and adults, resulting in disrupted or delayed sleep. Troomi smartphones combat screen-based sleeplessness by giving you the ability to schedule a screen free bedtime, ensuring that your children get the restful sleep they need. Click here to learn more!

Is it better to get 2 hours of sleep or no sleep?

Unfortunately, getting the advised amount of sleep isn’t always possible. If you have a demanding job, an intense study schedule, or are a busy parent, prioritizing sleep can sometimes fall to the wayside. In fact, a recent study by the CDC found that one-third of American adults don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep!

If you’re in this situation, it may be tempting to think, “I’m just going to push through and stay awake. Who needs sleep anyway?” Well, the answer is you need that sleep! Sleep deprivation leads to a number of health problems, including:

  • Memory issues
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Poor balance

Thankfully, these issues are easily avoided. Even 90 minutes of sleep (about the length of one full sleep cycle) helps your body feel rejuvenated and rested. A full night’s sleep typically has five to six complete cycles, but if you can’t get the whole thing, might as well get one! So yes, it is better to get 2 hours of sleep than no sleep at all. 

Studies have found that while sleep duration is important, the quality of sleep is even more important. How many times have you gotten a full eight hours, and still been tired thanks to some tossing and turning? Now think about those times you woke up from an uninterrupted nap and felt extremely rested. In fact, a recent study by Northwestern University found that a 90 minute nap provided high quality rest, leading to boosted motor skills and memory.

Is it ok to sleep during the day instead of the night?

Most health organizations advise that we prioritize sleeping at night. This is because our bodies recognize nighttime darkness and subsequently release melatonin. When it’s light outside, your body wakes up as it releases cortisol, a hormone that boosts energy and increases wakefulness.

For nearly 15 million Americans that work the night shift, however, their jobs require them to shift their sleep schedule around a bit and live a nocturnal lifestyle—even if they aren’t vampires. But does it matter what time you sleep as long as you get enough sleep? 

At first it does matter, due to the earlier mentioned circadian rhythm. As you transition into a consistent nocturnal schedule, however, your body will adjust. Remember, the quality of your sleep is the most important thing and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is the best way to get quality sleep. So if you’re one of the unlucky few who work the night shift, try to keep your schedule as consistent as possible.

Be an example to your kids!

As you teach your kids about the importance of consistent sleep, remember to set a good example and maintain a good sleep schedule yourself! Watching an adult be a good role model is one of the best ways kids learn. And not only will your kids benefit, but getting that quality sleep will make you a much happier and healthier parent.

And don’t forget to keep an eye on the Troomi blog for more parenting tips and tricks!