Fact or Fiction? We all Need 8 Hours of Sleep

For years, we’ve been hearing that when it comes to sleep health, eight hours is the magic number. But, the truth is, it depends. “There will be people who sleep five hours and function well. Some people need to sleep nine hours to function well,” Mohammad Sheatt MD, director of the Sleep Center at Bethesda Butler Hospital, explains.

How Much Sleep Do I Actually Need?

In general, most doctors say to aim for six to eight hours; however, you should pay attention to your body to find out how much you need to perform at your best. 

One way to do this is to keep a log. Each day, write down how many hours of sleep you’ve gotten and follow up with information on how you felt throughout the next day.  

I Get Plenty of Sleep and I’m Still Tired: Why is That?

If you are getting about seven or eight hours of sleep, wake up feeling tired and continue feeling exhausted throughout the day, you could have a sleep issue that’s interfering with the quality of your sleep, like sleep apnea. “About 80 percent of the patients who come to our sleep center have a problem with sleep apnea,” Dr. Sheatt says.

People with sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods of time while they are asleep. They usually don’t wake up completely when this happens; however, these people wake up feeling fatigued because it interrupts their sleep cycle. Symptoms include:

  • Loud, irregular snoring, then quiet periods of at least 10 seconds when breathing stops (These episodes can happen up to 100 times each hour.)
  • Daytime fatigue.
  • Morning headaches, sore throat, dry mouth, or cough
  • Depression, mood swings, or irritable disposition
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember things
  • Possible impotence or high blood pressure

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Tags: Wellness and Fitness

Last Updated: September 6, 2016