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How much sleep do I really need?

19th November 2023 • 7 min read

Getting enough sleep doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Here’s how to make it your secret superpower. 

In our fast-paced lives, it can be hard to get enough sleep. If you’re navigating life with a newborn (bleary-eyed parents yearning for a few hours of uninterrupted shut-eye – we see you), doing shift work, or jet-setting around the globe, putting time aside for quality sleep can be extra challenging. 

In a national survey of Australian adults, 33-45 per cent reported experiencing inadequate sleep, leading researchers to conclude that sleep problems are “endemic” amongst Australians. Another study found that one in four young adults aren’t satisfied with their sleep – describing it as ‘fairly bad’ or ‘very bad’ – and 30 per cent reported they don’t get enough.

But exactly how much is ‘enough sleep’? And why is it so important? We’ll get to what can happen if you spend too little (or too much) time beneath the covers – but first, let’s look at what the experts have to say about how much sleep you should be getting. 

How much sleep do I really need as an adult?

Our sleep patterns change as we transition from childhood to adulthood. When we’re little, we need lots of rest because of all the growing, learning and developing we’re doing – but this gradually declines with age.

Around the age of 20, our sleep starts to stabilise. As adults, it’s recommended we get between seven and nine hours per night in order to wake up feeling refreshed and function at our best throughout the day. 

Do some people need more sleep than others?

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to need a bit more sleep than others? We’ll bet you have at least one friend, family member or colleague who claims to do perfectly well on just six hours per night, and another who shows up in bad shape if they aren’t in bed before nine o’clock.

This may not be random. There is evidence to suggest that women may need a bit more sleep than men. Some women say their menstrual cycle plays a role – sleep problems are commonly reported in the three to six days before a period. Pregnancy, too, can lead to lighter sleep and more frequent night-time awakenings, which is part of the reason why pregnant women need extra rest. 

What happens if I get too much or too little sleep?

Differences aside, it’s best to aim for at least six but no more than 10 hours of sleep per night. A lack of sufficient sleep is linked to various problems, including:

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Difficulty remembering things

  • Low mood

  • Health conditions such as high blood pressure

On the other hand, constant fatigue or excessive sleepiness – which health professionals call ‘hypersomnia’ – can indicate an underlying sleep disorder or health condition, so it’s a good idea to see your GP if you find you’re spending too long in the land of nod.  

But let’s look at the sunny side: getting the right amount of sleep can help you feel good, stay healthy and perform at your best.

What can I do to make sure I'm getting enough sleep?

If you’re someone who has become accustomed to operating on limited sleep, getting seven to nine hours each night can seem like a pipe dream. But there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you’re getting enough shut-eye – here are a few tips to get your sleep schedule back on track.

Keep a consistent schedule

First and foremost, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your body's internal clock and get you into the habit of keeping your daytime activities for, well, the daytime. 

Put down the devices

Using technology in the evenings can make you more wakeful and interfere with sleep. It’s best to put down your devices well before bedtime (at least 1-2 hours prior). Can’t resist a night-time social scroll or email check-in? Dim the screen as much as you can and use ‘night mode’ on your devices. 

Keep active by day

Research suggests that regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed the next day. If you already feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and are struggling to factor in time for a workout, try making a few small adjustments to your daily routine – such as riding your bike to work, walking to the shops, or trading indoor activities for something more active on the weekend.

Unwind by night

An evening routine can help you relax and ease into sleep. Practise a few calming activities before bed such as reading, listening to soothing music, taking a bubble bath or meditating – and avoid anything that might stimulate you or increase your stress levels. 

Choose the right mattress

Investing in a good mattress can significantly improve both the quality and duration of your sleep. At Forty Winks, our exclusive bedMATCH® system makes finding the right mattress easy. It’s so simple, you won’t have to sleep on the idea – just lie down on our test bed in stores and let the sensors and computer technology get to work finding you the perfect mattress based on the postural support you need.

From soft and decadent to firm and super-supportive, there’s a mattress to meet your needs. Looking to alleviate pressure? The Forty Winks SleepMaker Santa Barbara Mattress, Firm could be for you. Featuring seven zones of pocket coils that move with your body, plus advanced memory foam for pressure relief and comfort, this mattress is designed to support all your sleep needs. Or perhaps you're looking for a plush feel, like you'll get with the Forty Winks Crown Posture Bedding Premiere Reserve Barossa Mattress. With Quadcoil™ Luxe pocket spring technology, it's made to deliver a truly indulgent and restorative sleep.

Ready to get a better night’s sleep? Explore our mattresses here.

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