This is why you don’t need 8 hours…

The idea that all of us should get 8 hours of sleep is something most of us have heard before and have likely believed. There is a narrative from society telling us that we should be getting eight hours. And so it makes sense, right? As humans, we love to emphasize the importance of a number…

But then we focus on these numbers too much and then they become unhealthy to us. And even if you were an eight hour sleeper, things get in the way of sleep, like illness and unexpected life events. Therefore, it’s impossible, even if you did need eight hours of sleep, to get eight hours every single night.

This idea that we need 8 hours warps people’s understanding of what a decent sleep is. Really, what they should be thinking is, I just want to be able to sleep fairly decently most of the time. And what does that look like? It’s different for everyone – 8 hours isn’t the optimal sleep time for us all.

But this goal of 8 hours that we set ourselves can feel impossible to attain. It’s a bit like aiming for “perfection”, but we know that perfection is impossible in science, right? Just like it’s impossible to get perfection in real life. Everybody’s sleep need is entirely different – what may be perfect for one person isn’t for another.

There are genetically short sleepers, genetically long sleepers, and everyone in between. And even if you are an eight hour sleeper, you’re not going to get it every night. Not even the best sleepers have good sleep every night – it’s impossible.