Of all the things to worry about in life, sleep may be the most pernicious. Most things you either can directly control (your booze intake, Twitter consumption, exercise regime) or you can’t (pollution, bees dying, malevolent artificial intelligence). But sleep sits right in the middle: even if you feel as if you are giving yourself enough, are you really? Is it the right sort? And then, of course, there’s always the worry that the worrying itself is a problem – by stressing yourself out about shut-eye, are you making things worse?
First, take a deep breath. To start with the basics: if you are getting anywhere from seven to nine hours a night, you’re probably fine. “Some people can get away with as little as six hours a night, or might need as much as 10, but those are generally extreme cases,” says Jason Carter, dean of Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. “I would start to get concerned with consistently sleeping less than seven hours a night, and really concerned if it dropped to six or below.”