It seems like every time you open a newspaper or turn on the TV, researchers are announcing the results of a new study about the optimum amount of sleep we need each night. The only problem is, much of the research on this subject can be contradictory and confusing. One study insists that anything under nine hours is enough to cause chronic sleep deprivation, while the next contends that as little as six hours a night might be sufficient. Which one is right?

The problem with many sleep studies is that they tend to over-generalize what is a deeply personal and individual number.  One point that most researchers agree on is that everyone’s sleep needs are different; the amount of sleep that may be non-negotiable in order for one person to function may be way too much for her neighbor, or vice versa.

The best way to determine how much sleep you need is to spend some time investigating the issue. Whenever you have a stretch of a few days at your disposal, make an effort to sleep as late as possible without using an alarm clock to wake up. After a few days, you should be able to see a pattern emerge. Generally speaking, the average amount of sleep that you get under these conditions will be close to the number that is right for you.

Want to find out what your sleeping habits are doing to your body? Do you know which ethnic group reportedly gets the best sleep? Click here to check out the National Sleep Foundation website for answers to these questions and more!