How much sleep do I need

How much sleep do I need? Stanford method to determine how much sleep you need.

Determining how much sleep you need is the most basic information you need to know in order to plan your days properly. This method suggested by Dr Dement from Stanford University is particularly effective:

Sleep Diary

Most people have a vague notion of their sleep need, so that figure should be the starting point. Suppose you need eight hours of sleep: adjust your alarm, for eight hours, and make sure you continue to record items on your sleep diary throughout the day. How sleepy do you feel after lunch, while driving, before dinner, while watching TV, and while ready?

Notice Alertness Levels

The next step in Dement’s method is key:

“If you begin to notice that you are more tired and more liable to become drowsy with the same amount of sleep at night, then you are getting less sleep than you need. Add 30 minutes to your sleep time, and keep monitoring. If your tendency to become drowsy and fall asleep declines, you are paying off your sleep debt (although you may still have a substantial one). If your tendency to become drowsy and fall asleep stays the same, then the amount you are sleeping each night is the amount of sleep you need, or very close to it.”

How much Sleep do you need? Method Two

Here is another approach suggested by Dement, which allows you to both eliminate sleep debt and establish your sleep need at the same time:

‘Pick a reasonable bedtime that you can stick with every night over the whole two weeks and then put away the alarm clock. The next morning don’t try to wake up at a certain hour, just let your brain find its own reveille.’

If you wake up naturally at your usual time, let yourself go back to sleep and sleep in as long as you can. (It helps to block out any light and noise from the bedroom.)

Repeat this routine each night. You are likely to sleep quite late the first few days as you make payments on your sleep debt, but after a while your sleep time should settle into a steady state, probably somewhere in the range of seven to nine hours.

How much sleep do I need? The key: once you are sleeping essentially the same amount each night, that is the amount of sleep that you need.

Sleep Consciousness

How much sleep do I need? Here is Dement’s favorite method to determine whether you are maintaining a reasonable sleep diet:

“Keep track of my episodes of heavy eyelids and struggling to stay awake, and the circumstances in which they take place. I am now so sensitive to these events that I know exactly how often they tend to happen.”

That is crucial to sleep consciousness.

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