The Truth: Is 6 Hours of Sleep Enough?

Is six hours of sleep enough? Stellar Sleep discusses how many hours of sleep you need to stay both mentally and physically at the top of your game.

When we’re younger, it can feel like we’ll be able to survive on a pot of coffee and a few hours of sleep every night. Sleep often falls low on the priority list, and we choose to burn the candles at both ends instead. 

So, is six hours of sleep actually enough? How much sleep do we actually need to perform our best and keep our bodies happy and healthy? The truth — and the impact of not getting enough sleep — may surprise you.

Is Six Hours of Sleep Enough?

Six hours of sleep can be enough for your body — every once in a while. However, when it comes to supporting your body in the way it needs, living on six hours of sleep can negatively affect the mind and body if allowed to continue long-term. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

So what’s the magic number? If six hours of sleep isn’t enough, how much should you be aiming for?

While you’ve probably heard that we need eight hours of sleep tonight, the truth is much less black and white. Everyone is different, and our bodies have their own unique “normal” set points. 

Don’t brush off that eight-hour goal yet, though — experts recommend trying to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. On average, younger people and those trying to recover from illness or sleep deprivation need the most sleep. For example, babies need between 12 and 16 hours daily.

Why Is Getting Enough Sleep Important?

With so much going on in life, it’s no surprise that we prioritize sleep far less than anything else, including work, family, and fun time. However, the benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. The quantity and quality of the rest we get significantly impact our physical and mental health and wellness.

Supports Mental Health

Although we’re far more aware of mental health than we used to be, that doesn’t mean that it’s getting as much attention as it deserves. 

Plenty of factors can impact mental health, such as genetics, life circumstances, and even diet. While we tend to focus more on emotional aspects, how we physically treat our body can also play a significant role. Lack of sleep can decrease our ability to use good judgment, encouraging snap decisions that can have a wide-reaching impact on our lives.

Promotes Overall Physical Wellness

If you’ve ever had periods of your life where you’re not getting enough sleep, you know how terrible it can make you feel. Besides just feeling tired and out of it, sleep deprivation can also make you feel nauseated, give you a headache, and even increase your likelihood of injury due to accidents. 

However, its impact doesn’t stop with just the short-term physical effects. The long-term effects of not getting enough sleep are even more dangerous. 

When you miss out on sleep for more than just a night or two at a time, it can increase your risk of developing heart disease, impair your immune system’s ability to fight off illness, and flood your body with stress hormones.

Increases Focus

In addition to mental and physical health, sleep is crucial for our ability to concentrate and focus. Sleep deprivation can impact cognitive function in a variety of ways — naturally decreasing our ability to pay attention and access our working memory. 

Sleep’s impact on focus is a major part of why one of the top tips for performing on big tests is to get a good night’s sleep the night before. 

How Can You Get Enough Sleep?

Is six hours of sleep enough? No, but don’t panic yet — there are ways to address the issues that may be stopping you from getting better rest. 

You can start by taking our free sleep quiz and narrowing down the potential causes of your sleep woes. In the meantime, here are a few other tips for taking control of your sleep schedule.

Implement a Sleep Schedule

To get more high-quality sleep, you can try to implement a sleep schedule. Leaving your rest up to chance may work out occasionally, but it generally doesn’t provide enough support and routine to help you where you need it.

The key to developing a supportive sleep schedule is choosing one you can stick with. As with everything in life, creating a routine requires consistency. When you stick with a sleep schedule, it not only provides you with the rest you need but also helps “train” your body to fall asleep more easily. 

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Although good sleep hygiene (also known as your sleep habits) is a crucial part of getting better sleep, it can’t “fix” your sleep all on its own. Combining sleep hygiene tips with a focus on addressing the psychological factors that may be holding you back can provide a well-rounded approach.

Here are some ways you can practice good sleep hygiene: 

  • Keep your room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid using technology (especially tech that emits blue light) at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Exercise frequently, but make sure that you’re done at least 90 minutes prior to starting your bedtime routine.
  • Don’t drink caffeine after noon — and watch for “sneaky” sources of caffeine like tea and chocolate. 

Remember, consistency is key — it’s helpful to make small, bite-sized changes that you know you can stick with rather than trying to change everyone entirely all at once. Once you stick with these small changes, it builds your self-confidence and helps you tackle the bigger ones.

Address Psychological Factors

The psychology of sleep and sleep issues is so important that an entire branch of psychology is devoted to it. Working with a CBT-I coach to uncover why you sleep the way you do can help you develop a routine that addresses the psychological factors that may be contributing to your sleep issues. 

The Bottom Line

Is six hours of sleep enough? Unfortunately, no — but that doesn’t mean that you have to just accept it. You can take your control back, and we’d love to show you how.

Stellar Sleep can help you gain the knowledge you need about both yourself and your sleep to create your best night’s rest yet. Quality sleep doesn’t happen by chance — it takes a determined focus on making real change, both physically and mentally. 

 

Sources:

How Sleep Works – How Much Sleep Is Enough? | NHLBI, NIH

The Benefits of Slumber | NIH News in Health

Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance | PMC

Tips for Better Sleep | CDC

Complete our free sleep quiz to see:
  • How severe your insomnia is
  • How your sleep compares to others
  • How psychology can help your sleep
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