Forget eight hours a night – This is how much sleep we actually need, scientists say

Time to stop pressing that snooze button...

You’ve probably been beating yourself up about the fact you rarely get the perfect eight hours of sleep a night – but according to science, we only really need six.

A new report by the University of California studied the San, of Namibia, the Hadza of Tanzania and the Tsimane of Bolivia – who were chosen because of their traditional lifestyles with more natural sleeping habits – and strapped sleep-analysing technology onto them to measure how long they spent asleep, recording over 1,000 days worth of data in total.

The majority of those studied slept for less than seven hours a night. In fact, the average sleeping time was six hours and 25 minutes – far below what we’re told we really need.

The participants were also in better health than us, with lower rates of obesity, better blood pressure and higher levels of fitness than us – despite their shorter sleeping times.

You might think that once you took away the Kindles and iPhones and TVs, you’d go to sleep much earlier and have a less distracted sleep – but apparently not. The participants in the study only fell asleep over three hours after sundown – so just like us really (well, apart from in the winter when the sun practically disappears at lunchtime).

‘There’s this expectation that we should all be sleeping for eight or nine hours a night, and if you took away modern technology, people would be sleeping more,’ said the study’s lead author, Ghandi Yeith. ‘For the first time, we are showing that’s not true.’

Jerome Siegel of the study said: ‘The argument has always been that modern life has reduced our sleep time below the amount our ancestors got but our data indicates this is a myth.’

So if you’re getting less than eight hours, don’t lose any sleep over it – according to science, that’s absolutely fine. And if you’re getting more than eight, all we can say is that we’re jealous. Very jealous.

Do you agree that we only need six hours of sleep, or are you exhausted even with eight hours? Let us know @marieclaireuk

Reading now

Popular