We’ve all been told time and time again that eight hours is the optimal number for sleep, but one expert claims that there is no ‘magic number’ that suits all.
Olivia Arezzolo, from Sydney, said while some people need eight or nine hours to function to their best, others can get by and be productive on just five or six.
The expert revealed how you can find your ideal number, and the factors that influence how much shut-eye you really need.
Olivia Arezzolo (pictured), from Sydney, said while some people need eight or nine hours sleep to function to their best, others can get by and be productive on just five or six
‘Sleep is definitely not a one-size-fits-all concept and it all depends on your sleep chronotype and your circadian rhythm genes,’ Olivia (pictured) told FEMAIL
Do we really need eight hours of sleep?
The first myth the expert was keen to dispel is the idea that unless you get eight hours of sleep, you will not be well-rested.
‘Sleep is definitely not a one-size-fits-all concept and it all depends on your sleep chronotype and your circadian rhythm genes,’ Olivia told FEMAIL.
There are four sleep chronotypes – Wolf, Bear, Lion and Dolphin – and all have different sleep needs:
‘A Lion – who is someone who likes to go to sleep and wake early – typically needs less sleep than a wolf or a bear,’ Olivia said.
‘They typically detoxify from the sleepiness promoting hormone adenosine faster than the other sleep personalities.’
Wolves love late nights and would ideally like to sleep past 9am every morning, while Bears account for 55 per cent of the population.
‘A typical Bear is likely to rouse from their slumber at around 7am, but they might feel fatigued so they will probably reach for a coffee or two,’ Olivia said.
‘By around 10am, they will start to perk up, and their energy peaks until the late afternoon, when they will face the 3pm slump.’
The 3pm slump can often lead to the consumption of energy drinks, extra milky coffee or sugar. A Bear then might struggle to sleep later on.
The fourth sleep chronotype – the Dolphin – is known as ‘classic insomniac’ of the four.
Olivia highlighted that they have ‘no set routine when it comes to their sleep and may snooze for two hours one night and 10 the next’.
Your genes can play a huge part in how much sleep you need, Olivia (pictured) said, as can your menstrual cycle and seasonal changes
The second thing that dictates how much sleep you need as a person is your genes.
‘A recent study found that those with a mutation of the DEC2 gene sleep for 6.25 hours – which is significantly shorter than those without the gene, who sleep for 8.06 hours,’ Olivia said.
Other things like your menstrual cycle and seasonal changes can also have an impact on how much shut-eye you feel as though you need on any given day.
We all typically feel a bit more tired in the winter, when the days are shorter, than we do during the summer months.
What is the recommended amount of sleep per age?
Birth: 16-20 hours, waking every 1-2 hours for a feed
3 months: 14-17 hours, 9-11 hours at night, 4-6 naps during the day
6 months: 14-15 hours: 9-11 hours at night, 2-3 naps during the day
12 months: 13-15 hours: 9-11 hours at night, 1-2 naps during the day
24-36 months: 11-14 hours: 9-11 hours at night, 1-2 during the day
3-5 years: 10-14 hours, napping once if needed
Children and teens: 9-11 hours
Adults and older adults: 7-9 hours
Source: Olivia Arezzolo
How can you figure out how much sleep you need?
If you’re looking to figure out how much sleep you really need, Olivia said the best way to start is figure out when you need to get up and then count back seven hours – which is the recommended daily allowance for an adult.
For example, if you’re someone who gets up at 7am, you need to be winding down by 11pm and fully asleep by midnight.
The expert also said you can use a holiday or a break to find out what your optimal number is:
‘After a few nights of recovery sleep (catching up on missed hours), take note of the amount of sleep you need to feel refreshed in the morning,’ Olivia said.
Once you have this, then try and stick to this schedule, both during the week and at the weekends.
If you fall off the wagon during the weekends with your sleep, it can be difficult to get back on track by the week.
But while how much sleep you need is important, Olivia (pictured) revealed quality is always more important
What is more important: quantity or quality?
But while how much sleep you need is important, Olivia revealed quality is always more important.
‘Quality is what makes you feel more energised the next day,’ she said.
To improve the overall quality of your sleep, Olivia said the best thing to do is follow a simple sleep routine.
She has a 10-step routine that includes deep breathing, limiting tech and blocking any blue light from your bedroom.
What is Olivia’s 10-step bedtime routine?
1. Create a sleep sanctuary: Remove any blue light from iPhones and devices and keep your bedroom for sleep and relaxation.
2. Block blue light: Do not allow blue light into the bedroom and restrict this two hours from bedtime.
3. Set a goodnight alarm for your phone: At this point switch it off so you wake fully refreshed.
4. Diffuse lavender: Diffuse lavender either onto your pillows or throughout the room to promote relaxation.
5. Have an evening shower or bath: This helps to promote relaxation 45-60 minutes before bed.
6. Drink chamomile tea: Do this an hour before bed to make you calm.
7. Take a magnesium supplement: This helps the muscles to relax.
8. Practise gratitude: Think about what you are grateful for.
9. Try meditation: This can be useful to help you sleep.
10. Practise deep breathing: This makes it easier to sleep.