How Much Sleep Do I Need?

how much sleep do i need

How much sleep do I need to live a healthy active life?  I can’t seem to find hard fast answers but I know that I don’t sleep much. I have been wearing the Fitbit One sleep tracker (my nemesis) for months now and the results it shows me both blow my mind and freak me out. I wear the Fitbit on my wrist when I sleep and it registers anytime that I move. Not only do I move but I wake up, unbeknownst to me, all night long.

The protagonist of the current trashy novel that I am reading made an offhand comment about being a fifty one year old man who sleeps little and wakes up four or five times a night. I am fifty and I fear I am that guy. In terms of actual sleep I have only gone over the four hour mark two or three times since I got my sleep tracker.

One piece of information the tracker gives me is “sleep efficiency” and I hover around 50% a night which can’t be good. The graph above is from last night and is fairly indicative of most of my evenings. In truth I don’t walk around exhausted and I feel like I have good energy during the day and I couldn’t nap if I wanted to.

The bedeviling thing is that the information out there is fairly sketchy. When I google how much sleep do I need I see lots of studies without much hard data. It is somewhat of a guessing game. A fairly consistent number you see for adults is 7-9 hours but I can’t even imagine spending that much time in bed let alone getting that much sleep. I feel like I live a charmed life in that I haven’t needed to use an alarm clock for over twenty years. I wake up when I wake up and once that happens, usually between 6 & 7am, I couldn’t go back to sleep if I wanted to.

The three hours of actual sleep that the above graph shows is pretty standard for me and instinctually I can’t imagine that it is good but I don’t know what to do to change it. I have experimented with a lot of options since I got the infernal contraption. I have tried going to sleep earlier and later, eating earlier and later, sugar and no sugar, more and less caffeine. I guess the next step is to kick coffee totally (I am down to one cup a day).

How much sleep do I need? Exactly what I get seems to be the simple answer but I want to live a long life and most research, as limited as it is, tells me that my average of three hours is not serving me. What’s a boy to do?


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