Sleep Guides

Do You Need 8 Hours Of Sleep?

Do You Need A Full 8 Hours of Sleep?

Our ancestors didn’t even sleep 8 hours at a time.  They normally slept in a biphasic sleep schedule – meaning they slept anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, an hour awake in the middle, and then 2 to 4 hours again.

A huge chunk of the American population doesn’t even come close to getting 8 hours of sleep.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control reported that roughly a 3rd of American adults (~40M people) don’t get enough sleep.

And that’s no surprise when you think about everything life that come before going to sleep.

Where Did 8 Hours Come From?

“Make sure you get your 8 hours tonight! Big day tomorrow.”

do you need 8 hours of sleep?8 hours of sleep is the ‘holy grail’ when it comes to getting a great night’s rest for the next day.

It’s standard for the average American to work 8 hours a day, but the actual 8 hours of time is more of a myth than a fact than what you actually ‘need’.

Of course, everyone is different (and we discuss that below), but the push for 8 hours has been around since the industrial revolution and wasn’t about the specific number as it was about getting more sleep and working less.

During the industrial revolution workers would regularly punch 10-16-hour work days for 6 days a week until Robert Owen came along.

Owen felt that 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation, and 8 hours for sleep was fair, but didn’t get a ton of support.

One of the first companies to implement the 8-hour work day was Ford Motor Company which not only mandated the 8 hours, but also doubled worker’s pay.  The most interesting part is that this increased the company’s efficiency with the same amount of workers with fewer hours resulting in higher margins.

It took more than 100 years for the original idea of 8 hours to fully implement into law (at least in the United States) – The Fair Labor Standards Act (1937).

Do You Need a Full 8 Hours?

If you look at our post on the Happiest Blog we talked about the relationship between sleep and overall happiness, but more specifically how most people go through life with ‘sleep debt’ that they continually rack up.

No big deal – just get a good night’s rest and you paid off your debt, right?

Not quite.  Most people given the chance (assuming a complete lack of agenda in their day) can easily sleep 12 hours in a day, and sometimes more depending on how deprived they are.

After a 2-week period their sleep schedules will level off at around 7-9 hours once their sleep debt is paid off.

But don’t get too comfortable – there’s a happy medium here.

Healthline published an article based on research that took place in the UK over the course of 25 years.  They’re findings?

You increase your chance of premature death or other conditions like diabetes and heart disease if you sleep more than 8 hours or less than 7 hours.

Chances of a longer life go up significantly when you sleep a consistent 7-8 hours a night on a consistent basis.

It can be difficult to get a consistent night’s sleep, but we covered some helpful tips for you here.

Everyone Is Different

Of course, everyone is different – including the amount of sleep they need.

In the most common cases here are the recommended amounts of sleep that you need depending on your age group.

  • Infants – 16-18 Hours
  • Preschoolers – 11-12 Hours (oh, THAT’s why they have nap time).
  • Elementary – at least 10 hours
  • Teens – 9-10 hours
  • Adults – 7-8 hours

Is It Possible to Function at Your Best with Less?


You don’t need 7-8 hours a night to function at your best IF you aren’t sleeping in a monophasic sleep schedule.

Monophasic is the most common sleeping pattern known to man, but like we mentioned above we didn’t always sleep that way.  It was more common to sleep in a biphasic sleeping schedules.

But there’s plenty of others:

  • Monophasic
  • Biphasic
  • Triphasic
  • Everyman
  • Dual Core
  • Uberman
  • Dymaxion

Sleeping 7-8 hours is recommended if you’re on a monophasic sleeping schedule, but if you’re looking for a way to function well on less sleep you can accomplish this by completely altering your sleep pattern.

Here’s What We Recommend

Stick with the sleeping pattern you have for now if you’re just looking to get a better night’s sleep.  We do recommend getting to bed and waking up at or around the same time so that your body knows when to wake up and when to be asleep.

Try and stick to the recommended 7-8 hours as best you can, and keep in mind that every day is different than the next and may not require as much sleep or less sleep depending on the next day’s plans.

There’s 4 areas you can focus on to ensure you’re feeling ready for tomorrow:

  • Consistently planning your day

One night out of the week can throw every following one off.  Getting to bed late and waking late can result in a late bed time the next night.  You’re never too old for ‘bed time’.

  • Setting a sleep schedule

In addition to planning out your day (if it’s a loose plan or you have a lot going on) try and be in bed at a consistent time every night and also wake at the same time every morning.

Doing this will tell your body “I need to be awake at X time, and I need to be asleep at Y time.”  But remember, don’t overdo it.  7-8 hours max (on a monophasic schedule).

  • An excellent diet

An excellent diet not only helps your body perform better during the day, but also at night when you’re catching your brain up on rest.

A good diet works, but an excellent diet is achieved when you keep consistency in mind.

A great night’s sleep isn’t only about WHAT you eat, but also WHEN you eat.  Try and limit anything high in sugar or caffeine several hours before bedtime.

  • Regular excercise

Exercise goes hand in hand with diet, and can also help you get a better night’s sleep.  Your body can rest much easier when it needs it physically than not.