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Is the Eight Hours of Sleep Rule a Myth?

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

Are you sleeping enough at night? Whether you answered yes or no to this question, it’s likely you compared your hours of rest with the standard 8-hour rule. But, here’s the kicker, the eight hours of sleep rule may be a myth.

Read on to learn more about whether or not you should use the eight hours of sleep rule as your standard for enough sleep.

Do we really need 8 hours of sleep?

To answer this question, first we should look at how the concept of eight hours of sleep even started. You’d be surprised to learn that it actually began with the rise of the Industrial Revolution.

In the early 1800’s Welsh socialist Robert Owen is credited with coining the phrase “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, and eight hours rest” for a 24-hr period. This was to prevent the 14-hr workdays workers were being forced to do. It also unintentionally drove the concept that 8 hours of rest was the magic number for sleep for everyone.

Modern research has shown that there isn’t a single magic number of sleep that works for everyone.

How much sleep do you really need?

So how much sleep do you really need? Well, the answer is, it depends. Everyone has individual sleep needs. One person may feel rested after 10 hours of sleep while another person only needs 6.

Research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in 2015 revealed varying sleep ranges according to age. For adults ages 26 to 64, they recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep as a guide and acknowledged individuals needing less or more hours depending on their individual needs.

The amount of sleep you need not only varies by age, but also by your health, lifestyle, and natural sleep pattern.

How to determine how much sleep you need?

Now that you know the eight hours of sleep rule is a myth, it’s time to figure out how much sleep you actually need.

Ask yourself a few questions about your sleep pattern and overall routine. The goal of these questions is to find out what your body naturally needs in order to function properly the next day. And that’s without copious amounts of caffeine to ward off feelings of drowsiness throughout the day.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How many hours of sleep did you get the night before?

  • Did you feel well-rested when you woke up, or groggy and tired?

  • Were you able to properly function throughout the day? Or did you rely on caffeine to “power through”?

Reflect on your sleep experience daily. Take special note of your sleep for days when you wake up well-rested and function at your best throughout the day. And if you have days where you sleep hours don’t have to be restricted to specific times, pay attention to when you naturally fall asleep and wake up.

With the eight hours sleep rule myth debunked, how do you plan on finding your sleep sweet spot? Comment below and let us know!

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