Debunking the "Recommended 8 Hours of Sleep": The Importance of Understanding Your Individual Sleep Needs

Cover image for the blog post titled 'Debunking the
Have you ever stressed about not getting the "recommended eight hours of sleep" every night?
Or have you ever tried to go to bed earlier to try to get more sleep... but then it takes you forever to fall asleep or you wake up in the middle of the night and it takes forever to fall back asleep?
If any of this sounds familiar, you're not alone. I constantly hear from people who toss and turn at night, and then they're plagued by this anxiety of not achieving those "critical" eight hours.
But here's the thing: sleep needs vary from person to person and that quest to get eight hours might actually be what's wrecking your sleep.

The Impact of Sleep Quality and the Dangers of Too Much Sleep

While not getting enough sleep can cause lots of problems, trying to force yourself to get too much sleep can too!
You're probably well versed on how sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, worsening mood, depression, and anxiety, but you probably haven't heard that trying to get too much sleep can wreck your sleep quality and cause insomnia.
Sleep scientists have even recently identified a new unofficial sleep condition called "orthosomnia," which loosely translates to sleep perfectionism.
It happens when people become so obsessed with getting the perfect amount of sleep or hitting specific sleep targets that their stress and anxiety over not meeting that goal essentially gives them insomnia.

Finding Your Sleep Efficiency: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Instead of trying to meet some specific sleep goal, focus instead on getting however much sleep you need to feel your best.
One of the easiest ways to find out how much sleep is right for you is by doing a simple sleep check-in.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Do you go to bed when you feel sleepy at night or are you forcing yourself to stay up past that?
2. Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep or do you sleep efficiently?
3. Do you feel like you need a nap all day or tend to doze off if you sit still, or are your energy levels good?
The answers to these questions are a much better indication of how you’re sleeping than how many hours you or your sleep tracker think you’re getting.

The Hidden Sleep Issues Behind the Eight-Hour Myth

The myth that we all need 8 hours of sleep can also have consequences by inadvertently concealing less obvious sleep issues.
Someone with sleep apnea, for example, might think they're a "great sleeper" because they get "the recommended eight hours" every night. But they're so focused on the quantity that they don't realize their sleep quality is terrible and actually putting them in real danger.

Understanding Your Sleep Health: Beyond the Recommended 8 Hours

So if you feel your energy levels are good throughout the day and you have no other sleep complaints, you're probably getting enough sleep, even if it's less than 8 hours.
On the flip side, if you spend all day feeling like you need a nap or you have a tendency to doze off if you sit still, that’s a sign that something's wrong with your sleep, even if you're getting "the recommended 8 hours."
Please ask your doctor for a sleep study or at least an at-home sleep apnea test as soon as possible.
Remember, the key to sleep health is getting the right amount of high-quality sleep to meet your individual sleep needs — not hitting some arbitrary number.


Our FREE TRAINING, "How to Get the Quality Sleep You Need Without Medication, Meditation, Quitting Caffeine, or Giving Up Screens" is packed with tips and insights to kickstart your Sleep Fix journey and teach you all about our Sleep Fix Method course.


I’m on a mission to help you sleep better with practical, evidence-based solutions. 

As a professional news anchor and correspondent, I saw my own sleep and health deteriorate for years. I tried one standard sleep tip after another. But they either didn’t work, or seemed completely unrealistic — and in some cases both. 

So I used my experience as a journalist and problem solver to research and consult with experts and patients all across sleep science. Together they helped me create actionable fixes that are practical, easy to understand and, most importantly, really work! 


Keeping a sleep diary is often the first thing a sleep specialist will tell you to do and it can be an incredibly valuable tool, whether you’re tackling your sleep problems yourself or seeking professional help.


Overcoming Insomnia: Why Generic Sleep Tips Don't Work

Jun 22, 2024