Is 5 Hours of Sleep Enough? How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Neal Tucker

6 min read SLEEP

Is 5 Hours of Sleep Enough? How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?


No matter where you are in life — late nights studying, overtime at work, being a new parent, caring for an elderly parent — there will always be situations that try to keep you from getting enough sleep. In some cases, these situations can affect your entire sleep schedule. As an ancient Greek philosopher once rightly said, "The only constant is change." It can often seem like 24 hours a day isn't enough. When that happens, sleep deprivation can follow.


There's a persistent myth that sleeping less during the work week is okay, as long as you sleep overtime on the weekend. Despite the persistence of this particular maxim, it is simply not true. 


Sure, you may be able to make up for an occasional lousy night by sleeping extra the following night. But when your sleep-wake schedule swings back and forth every week, it can lead to health issues. The question that plagues many depends on the amount of sleep needed to stay healthy and optimal over time.


In other words: "How much sleep do you really need?" Another popular sleep question: "Is 5 hours of sleep enough?"


These are related questions. We will look at both and discover the answer to each in turn. Let's find out together, shall we?



How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? 

One fact we can be sure of: our sleep requirements can change from time to time as we age. Here's the recommended sleep duration from the experts according to your age:


  • Newborns: 14 to 17 hours
  • Infants: 12 to 15 hours
  • Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours
  • Preschoolers: 10 to 13 hours
  • School-aged children: 9 to 11 hours
  • Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours
  • Young adults: 7 to 9 hours
  • Adults: 7 to 9 hours
  • Older adults: 7 to 8 hours


At the risk of belaboring the point... Did you catch 5 hours of sleep listed anywhere in that list? Of course, the answer is no. That's because 5 hours of sleep is not enough sleep, no matter how old you are.


So, to answer the question once and for all...


Is 5 hours of sleep enough? No, 5 hours of sleep is not enough for almost anyone. Most people need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep at night to function optimally during the day.


One possible reason this question occasionally pops up is the tiny percentage of people that can sleep less than the rest of the population. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "Using whole exome genome sequencing [...] researchers searched for gene mutations that only the naturally short sleepers had. They found a rare mutation in the ADRB1 gene that was being passed through the family. Family members who inherited one copy of this mutant gene had a shortened sleep cycle."


But this genetic mutation is infrequent, to the tune of less than 1 in every 20 people. "Sleep requirements seem to follow a typical curve in the general population," writes Scientific American, "with most people needing between seven and eight hours nightly. Only about 5 percent of the population can get by just fine on six hours of sleep."


Obtaining only five or six hours of shut-eye means you aren't quite reaching your body's natural sleep quota. This can result in poor performance the following day.


Some of us assume that 5 hours of sleep is enough, so we can have plenty of time to finish our demanding work and all those extracurricular activities. But sadly, that is not how it works. 


Furthermore, some studies testify that sleep restriction for multiple days in a row poses even more significant health risks. Reducing sleep time will likely usher in cognitive functioning and performance losses in your waking life.



What Happens When You Don't Get Enough Sleep?


Lack of sleep can bring on countless severe consequences. According to a study, people who sleep less than 6 to 8 hours per day can have a 12% higher risk of premature death. 


You're likely to suffer from sleep deprivation if you constantly feel dizzy, sleepy, easily irritated, exhausted during the day, yawn excessively, or experience common headaches.


If you believe in the magic of coffee or other stimulants to keep you awake without regular sleep, best not to get your hopes up too high. Nothing will help you deal with getting consistently lower amounts of sleep over the long term.


Let's look at some of the consequences and health results of not getting enough sleep each night.



More Cravings for Food

The tendency to crave sweet, salty, and starchy food may increase when you don't get enough sleep. Since you're suffering from sleep deprivation, your body needs to compensate for this lost energy. Your body needs to restore that strength, which leads you to eat more, which may result in obesity and other health-related risks.


Excessive Sleepiness During the Day

People with excessive daytime sleepiness are at risk of poor cognitive performance, which can lead to, among other things, driving accidents. A significant number of road accidents have been recorded yearly due to drowsy driving. According to some research, drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Another example might be crossing the road without looking and winding up in a pedestrian accident. While these examples focus on traffic incidents, low cognitive performance can result in a wide variety of unintentional hazards.


Extreme Fatigue

Bad sleep habits will almost certainly result in intense tiredness and knock out your brain — and body — from functioning well. When constantly tired, your whole body system is impacted, and your ability to perform your daily tasks can get adversely affected.


Weakened Immune System

Poor quality of sleep can lead to a weak immune system. Studies indicate that people with insufficient sleep are more likely to get ill, such as the common cold virus and other diseases like cardiovascular disease, heart disease, visual impairment, and diabetes. Lack of sleep can also slow your recovery from being sick.


Mood Swings & Poor Attention

Sleep deficiency and mood swings are closely linked. You might be impatient or irritable, and decision-making can become comprised, making it difficult to concentrate and hard to recall information. With extreme sleep deprivation, you may even start having visual and auditory hallucinations. A study found that the effects of sleep restriction are cumulative, meaning that after a couple of days, you will be increasingly less alert and less attentive to stimuli if you keep sacrificing sleep.


Depression & Anxiety

Chronic sleep or sleep deprivation is particularly more common in those experiencing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Experts say that body and mind must work together to feel energetic and well-rested. Short sleep can be stressful, and that stress can build over time to engender feelings of depression or anxiousness.



Tips to Get the Right Amount of Sleep


  • Time management 

You can't solve all your troubles in one night of sleep. Managing your time each day is vital to preparing for a long night of healthy sleep.


  • Track your sleep schedule

It's hard to wake up early in the morning when you stay up late. But it is important to keep your sleeping routine close to the same each and every day. A consistent sleep pattern will help maintain the timing of the body's internal clock (aka, your circadian rhythm) and help you fall asleep quickly and wake up fresh and energetic.




Due to busy work or school schedules and the countless other demands of daily life, we often forget how necessary it is to get enough sleep each night.


With the right tools, though, we can all get the proper amount of sleep at night to function optimally each day. In addition to making time for rest, it's equally important to have the right sleep system.


That's what we're here for!


If you're asking, "Is there a mattress store near me?" Then we have good news! You can stop by any of our showrooms in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California, or in Scottsdale, Arizona, near Phoenix, without an appointment. We have sleep specialists ready to help you find the right organic mattress for your body type and sleeping position.


You can also shop right here on our website for organic and all-natural mattresses, pillows, bedding, mattress toppers, and more. We can't wait to help you sleep better — for every good night.


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