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By now, we know why we sleep and how crucial sleep is for our immune system, cardiovascular health, weight loss and mental health. I hope that all the articles helped to convince you that good sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind. 

As I have already alluded in those articles, most people need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. As a rule of thumb, if you strive to get eight hours of sleep a night, you are certainly on your way to mastering better sleep. 

Does Everyone Need that Amount of Sleep?

Throughout the history of human beings, we have mostly slept for more than eight hours a night. Even in the 1940s, research shows that an average American got 7.9 hours of sleep every night. 

However, 70 years later, the average American gets 6 hours and 31 minutes of sleep each night. 1 out of 2 adults in America is not hitting the recommended eight hours of sleep. What is even worse, is that 1out of 3 people are trying to get by with only six hours or less of sleep every night. Staggeringly, over ten million American adults take some sleep aid to help with their sleeping. 

Global Issue

Although the statistics refer to Americans, it’s not just an American problem, rather a global one. The average number of hours of sleep a person gets has reduced in other countries too. Take Japan, for example, where individuals are getting only 6 hours and 21 minutes while those in the UK are getting 6 hours and 49 minutes. 

Dr Mathew Walker argues, based on sound evidence that the number of people who can successfully survive on six hours of sleep, rounded to a whole number and expressed as a percentage of the population is zero. 

Genetic Mutation of the DEC Gene

There is, however, a tiny fraction of people who can survive on five hours or less of sleep. A genetic abnormality in the DEC gene enables these people to thrive while only having had six hours of sleep a night. Now, before you become thrilled at the possibility of having this gene mutation, know this. You are more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime (odds of 1/12,500) than you are to have this gene mutation. 

Getting those Eight Hours of Sleep

From my extensive scientific research, my conclusion is this: 

About 90% of the human adult population need between seven to nine hours of sleep. Some need more than eight hours, and a very few need less than six hours of sleep a night. 

Based on this, I try my best to get at least eight hours of sleep every single night. Getting my eight hours gives me great mental clarity and the energy I need to thrive every day. 

However, as a Muslim living in Switzerland, I don’t always have the luxury of getting a solid eight hours of sleep during the summer as ‘Isha is late and Fajr is early. Still, I try to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep, even in Summer. 

It’s not all so bad during the summer, because you may not necessarily need that much sleep as you do in winter. Your circadian rhythm, which regulates your body clock, is maintained by exposure to light. That means your need for sleep in winter isn’t the same in summer.

While seven to nine hours of sleep is still a good benchmark all-year-round, you may find that you need an hour or two less than you did in the winter.

Ditching your Devices 

In scientific experiments, it has been found that when you isolate people, with no electricity, no alarm clocks, no phones or digital devices – they tend to sleep closer to nine hours. To be more precise, most people slept for 7.5 hours to 9.5 hours a night. And they also tended to go to bed earlier, and wake up earlier.

So ditch your devices in the evening, and you’ll easily get your eight hours sleep. 

The Sleep Need of Other Age Groups

I’ve talked about the sleep need of adults. But what is the sleep need of other age groups?

Here is the recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation:

Age Group Recommended Hours
Newborns 14-17 hours
Infants (between 4 and 11 months) 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years old) 11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years old) 10-13 hours
Elementary (6-13 years old) 9 -11 hours
Teens (14-17 years old) 8-10 hours
Young Adults (18-25 years old) 7-9 hours
Adults (including seniors) 7-8 hours
Older Adults (65 years and older) 7-8 hours

What does Islam say about how many hours of sleep we need to be getting? That will be our topic for next week, insha Allah.

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