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How much sleep do you really need?

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How many hours of sleep should you be getting? Most people believe it is 8 hours, although there isn't a lot of scientific evidence to back up this claim. From various sleep questionaires and surveys over the years, 7-9 hours for adults seems to be the magic number. But is that too much? Or not enough?

Tribal sleep patterns

A study by Jerome Siegel, who studies sleep at the University of California, found tribal cultures (that don't have access to electricity) were sleeping between 6-7 hours and were reasonably healthy. This number is lower than we thought was necessary. The amount of sleep we need may be dictated by our genes. A study found that those carrying gene 'ABC99' meant they could sleep half-an-hour less per night with the same result.

What's right for me?
Sleep is different for every age and every individual. Try writing down what time you sleep and wake up to find out how much you are sleeping. 7-9 hours is still recommended for adults, but 6 hours a night or an indulgent 10 is okay too. For teens anywhere between 7-11 hours is fine and if you're a newborn you should be aiming for 14 hours per night. The best rule of thumb is you shouldn't need an alarm clock.


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