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How much sleep do you really need?

There’s so much conflicting information out there about how many hours sleep we should be getting, which can make it really confusing to know just how much you should be aiming for.

But, despite eight hours often being hailed as the Holy Grail, you might be relieved to know that there isn’t actually a magic sleep number! Everyone’s requirements differ wildly.

Some of us can function far better on less sleep that others - Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were both famous for getting by on just four hours sleep a night – whilst some need at least 10 hours to feel fresh come morning.

In recent years researchers have been increasingly questioning the ‘one size fits all’ view, and now scientists have spotted a gene variant that strongly suggests some people are programmed to cope on less than five hours of sleep a night.

By studying 100 sets of twins, researchers in America found that those with a particular gene variant had fewer lapses in performance when deprived of sleep for 38 hours and recovered quicker afterwards.

This is good news for those of you who worry you’re not getting enough sleep on a daily basis – perhaps you simply don’t need as much as you thought.

Experts say that sleep requirements vary from person to person and that the biggest challenge for most of us, living in this age of information overload, is to enjoy a good deep sleep rather than a certain quota of hours. That way we’re more likely to feel rejuvenated.

So, trust your body. If you sleep for eight hours a night, but still find yourself nodding off in front of your computer, you aren’t getting enough. But if you’re sleeping five hours a night and feel great every morning, then you probably are.