How much sleep do you really need? Sleep and aging are topics often coupled and I am sick of hearing about it. Researchers have been trying to frighten us “non-sleepers” to death for years. Everything from dementia to death have been attributed to sleep deprivation. The statistics are scary. They tell us that if we don’t get eight hours of sleep every night we could die tomorrow. My husband, the geneticist, has been assuring me for years that everyone’s sleep needs are individual, and that they are based on our genetic make-up. This is all well and good but as he is a guy who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, I was still a little bit suspicious. I finally found a number of articles that agreed with my “theory” that sleep isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Yes, sleep is nice, but the fact that I am a “non-sleeper,” doesn’t necessarily mean that I will fall victim to one or all of those dire consequences. I wake up often and I wake up early but guess what, as far as I know or want to find out, I do not have a sleep disorder and I am not tired during the day. Guidelines say that we should sleep eight hours every night, but there is no absolute amount of sleep that everyone has to have. How you feel and how you function during the day is what is important. There is no denying that a good night sleep is important if you want to feel great when you wake up. Seek help if this isn’t happening for you but stop worrying if you don’t sleep the same number of hours as your spouse or your best friend. Everyone’s sleep needs are different. Whether you are a night owl or a morning lark is immaterial. The key is getting the amount that is right for you; quality instead of quantity. The starting point, which you already know, harkens back to having a regular bedtime, avoiding stimulants, and creating a calming routine. You may need a white noise machine, a meditation session, a glass of warm milk or a cup of chamomile tea. Experiment and find what works for you.