A new study reveals exactly how many hours of sleep people aged 38 and over need, and it's not 8!

If you're questioning how many hours of sleep you need, the answer could be less than you think...

how many hours of sleep do I need?
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Many of us wonder how many hours of sleep we need each night and while most of us think that the answer is 8 hours, a new study has suggested that the answer is actually quite different.

Sleep is one of the most important factors that contribute to our health and well-being but many of us still have no idea how many hours of sleep our body actually needs. However, a new study has found that people over the age of 38, actually don't need 8 hours of sleep every night, and the optimal number of hours in bed is lower. 

According to the study, people aged over 38 only need 7 hours of sleep per night. This means they only need 49 hours of sleep per week, rather than the previously assumed 56 hours of sleep a week. 

Sleeping naked

(Image credit: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy / Getty Images)

The study (opens in new tab) about sleep was published this week by scientists from the University of Cambridge and Fudan University in China. The researchers collected data from nearly 500,000 adults who were aged between 38-73 years old.

The study analyzed the participants sleeping habits, genetic and cognitive factors, brain structure, and mental health. Once this information was collected and analyzed the researchers were able to work out that 7 hours per night is the 'optimal sleep duration'.

The research found that too much or too little sleep can impact a person's well-being and in fact, the perfect amount of sleep for the majority of adults was 7 hours. Those who received 7 hours of sleep had better problem-solving skills, memory, and processing ability. They were also less likely to struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.

The study also showed that consistency was key. So sleeping 6 hours one day, then 8 hours the next, caused inconsistent sleep and tiredness, even if they are getting the same number of shut-eye per week. 

Women's Health (opens in new tab)reported that researcher Prof Barbara Sahakian from the University of Cambridge, said, "Getting a good night’s sleep is important at all stages of life, but particularly as we age. Finding ways to improve sleep for older people could be crucial to helping them maintain good mental health and wellbeing and avoiding cognitive decline, particularly for patients with psychiatric disorders and dementias."

Woman sleeping in white bedsheets at night after learning how to fall asleep fast

(Image credit: (Credit: Getty Images))

As the summer nears, sleep is becoming more and more important as many of us are struggling to figure out how to sleep in the heat during the hot weather. 

So whether you know how to fall asleep quickly, or whether it takes you a bit of time to nod off, this study should reassure you that 8 hours is no longer the recommended amount, and 7 hours per night is the perfect number for proper rest and good health.

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.