How Do You Know If You’re Getting Enough Sleep? Use This App

If you’re feeling tired, irritable, and unable to focus, you may not be getting enough sleep. Find out for sure by checking the RISE app.
Updated
2024-01-29
16 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
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How Do You Know If You’re Getting Enough Sleep? 

  • You may not be getting enough sleep if you’re feeling tired, irritable, and unable to focus, or if you’re sleeping for much longer periods of time when you don’t set an alarm. 
  • It can be tricky to tell for sure, though, as we grow used to sleep deprivation symptoms, the symptoms can look similar to symptoms of other health issues, and many of us don’t know how much sleep we need in the first place (it’s unique to us).
  • The RISE app gives you a solid answer. The app works out how much sleep you need and tracks how much sleep you’re getting. You’ll find out each morning whether you’re getting enough sleep or not.

Waking up tired? Nodding off at your desk? Feeling sluggish all day? You might not be getting enough sleep. But it can be hard to tell. 

Below, we dive into how to know if you’re getting enough sleep and how you can use the RISE app to find out for sure.

A Sleep Doctor's Advice

We asked Dr. Chester Wu, one of our Rise Science sleep advisors and medical reviewers, for his thoughts on how to know whether you’re getting enough sleep. Here’s what he had to say.

“Some key signs of not getting enough sleep include feeling low on energy all day, lacking motivation, and feeling more stressed and in a bad mood. If this sounds like you, try heading to bed a little earlier over the next few weeks and seeing if that makes a difference to how you feel. It can be easy to mistake the signs of sleep deprivation for other health issues. So knowing if you’re getting enough sleep can not only help you feel better each day, it can help you manage your overall health as you’ll know whether symptoms are caused by sleep deprivation or not.”

Am I Getting Enough Sleep?

The signs of not getting enough sleep include: 

If you get insufficient sleep, you’ll start building up sleep debt. This is the amount of sleep you owe your body. You might notice side effects of short-term sleep debt (like those above) the next day, but the signs of long-term sleep debt can be different and they can take months or years to show up. 

The signs of long-term sleep debt include: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Obesity 
  • Heart disease 
  • Mental health problems like anxiety and depression 
  • Multiple serious health conditions (a 2023 study found short sleep duration was linked to higher odds of having a medical condition)

Find out if you’re getting enough sleep today: Check the RISE app to see if you’ve got any sleep debt. If you’ve got a lot of sleep debt (we say that’s five hours or more), you haven’t been getting enough sleep recently. 

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How Do You Know If You’re Getting Enough Sleep?

To know if you’re getting enough sleep, look out for sleep deprivation symptoms like feeling tired all day, feeling irritable, being unable to focus, struggling to make it until noon without caffeine, and sleeping for much longer when you don’t set an alarm. The easier way to know if you’re getting enough sleep is to check the RISE app. 

RISE works out how much sleep you need and calculates whether you’ve got any sleep debt. We recommend keeping sleep debt below five hours to maximize your energy levels. So if you find out you have more than five hours of sleep debt, you’ll know you’ve not been getting enough sleep recently.

How does RISE work this out? The app tracks your sleep times each night to let you know in the morning whether you got enough sleep. 

But it’s not just night by night. We measure sleep debt over 14 nights. We put more weight —15% — on last night’s sleep as this has the biggest impact on how you’ll feel today. The remaining 85% comes from the 13 nights before this, with recent nights having more weighting. And any lost sleep is compared against your individual sleep need, too, not generic guidelines. 

You can learn more about how much sleep debt you have here.

It can be tricky to know if you're getting enough sleep by yourself. Here’s why: 

  • The signs of sleep deprivation can be confused with other health issues: Most of us would first blame last night’s dinner for digestive issues instead of last night’s sleep, or not know why we’re hungrier and craving more junk food than usual and perhaps blame stress. Beyond health issues, you might lose your temper with your partner and blame relationship issues instead of sleep deprivation. And symptoms from a lack of sleep last week could be felt today, even if you got enough sleep last night. Plus, we all respond differently to sleep loss, so the signs can vary from person to person. 
  • Some sleepiness during the day is natural: E.g. when you first wake up and during the afternoon slump — although you’ll feel more tired during these times if you’re not getting enough sleep. 
  • Many of us don’t know how much sleep we need to begin with: Guidelines for sleep are generic and they’re based on self-reported data showing how much sleep people get, not what they need. That’s not to mention that the guideline of seven to nine hours is a huge two-hour window! When it comes to our own sleep need, it’s determined by genetics and so it’s unique to us. How much sleep you need also changes over your lifetime (kids need much more sleep than adults) and it can even change from day to day (you may need more sleep when you’re recovering from illness, injury, or intense exercise). 
  • We can get used to the effects of sleep deprivation. Research suggests you may not be aware of your cognitive performance declining when you’re not getting enough sleep and your body makes more of the alertness-boosting hormones cortisol and adrenaline to keep you running. (This can give you a false sense of energy in the moment but high levels of these hormones in the long run can lead to health issues.) And even if you’re not used to the symptoms, you may be able to mask them with a strong cup of coffee.
  • You may be getting enough sleep, but getting it at the wrong times for you. This can lead to circadian misalignment, which is when you get out of sync with your circadian rhythm, or body clock. Circadian misalignment can cause symptoms similar to sleep deprivation like low energy, impaired mental performance, weight gain, and physical and mental health issues. (We’ve covered more on why it matters what time you sleep here).
  • It’s hard to track how much sleep you’re getting by yourself: Eight hours in bed doesn’t equal eight hours of sleep. You may forget (or ignore) the time it takes to fall asleep and any time you’re awake in the middle of the night. Studies show we tend to think we got more sleep than we did and even wearables can be inaccurate. And, of course, you can’t tell whether you’re getting enough sleep if you don’t know how much sleep you’re getting in the first place. You might also be tracking the wrong things — like focusing on deep sleep rather than sleep duration as a whole, or on the quality of your sleep over the quantity.
RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can calculate whether you have any sleep debt.

 

How Do You Know If You’re Getting Enough Quality Sleep?

Signs you’re getting enough quality sleep include: 

  • Your sleep is mostly unbroken 
  • You sleep at roughly the same times each night 
  • You’re getting enough sleep overall 
  • You fall asleep within 10 to 20 minutes 
  • You’re falling back asleep quickly when you wake up in the night (waking up once or twice is normal) 
  • You feel alert about 90 minutes or sooner after waking up 
  • You’d wake up at a similar time if you didn’t set an alarm (provided you got enough sleep) 

Expert tip: You don’t need to worry about sleep quality scores, sleep cycles, or even the amount of time spent in different sleep stages. There’s no agreed-upon definition for sleep quality, and by getting enough sleep overall, you’ll be getting enough deep sleep and REM sleep

Sleep quantity and quality are often positioned against each other. But the science is clear they're mutually inclusive: you need enough quality sleep, which is to say, the right quantity of quality to sleep to feel your best. 

Our advice is to focus on keeping your sleep debt low (getting enough sleep) and staying in sync with your circadian rhythm (getting sleep at the right times for you). Experts agree these are the two biggest factors determining how you feel each day. They will help you get enough quality sleep

To get started, you can learn more about the best time to sleep and wake up here. 

Perfecting your sleep hygiene will help you keep your sleep debt low and stay in sync with your circadian rhythm. More on that soon. 

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

We all need a different amount of sleep. This is known as our sleep need. Your sleep need is determined by genetics, just like your height and eye color, and it’s different across your lifespan.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep by age is: 

  • Newborns: 14 to 17 hours 
  • Infants: 12 to 15 hours 
  • Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours 
  • Preschoolers: 10 to 13 hours 
  • School-aged children: 9 to 11 hours 
  • Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours 
  • Young adults and adults: 7 to 9 hours 
  • Older adults: 7 to 8 hours 

But these guidelines are just that: guidelines. Experts state they are “not a one-size-fits-all recommendation.”

You can work out how much sleep you need exactly by:  

  • Waking up without an alarm and tracking your sleep for one to two weeks (also known as the sleep rebound method) 
  • Using a sleep calculator like RISE 

RISE uses a year’s worth of phone use behavior and sleep-science-based algorithms to work out your sleep need down to the minute. 

Instead of trying to figure it out for yourself, RISE is a quick, easy, and more accurate way of finding out your sleep need. 

We’ve covered more on how much sleep you need here, including why it’s so tricky to work out your sleep need manually.

Heads-up: Sleep needs are unique and there’s quite a range. To demonstrate, we looked at how much sleep 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and older needed. Their sleep needs spanned from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes with eight hours of sleep being the median.

We looked at how much sleep 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and older needed. Their sleep needs spanned from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes with eight hours of sleep being the median.
The RISE app works out how much sleep you need.


RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here

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How to Get Better Sleep?

Get better sleep by improving your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the name for the healthy sleep habits you can do to fall asleep quicker, wake up less often, and get enough quality sleep overall. 

Here’s what good sleep hygiene looks like: 

  • Get out in sunlight for at least 10 minutes each morning
  • Get as much sunlight during the day as you can
  • Avoid bright light about 90 minutes before bed 
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, intense exercise, and large meals too close to bedtime 
  • Make time to wind down before bed with a relaxing bedtime routine 
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet 
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule, even on your days off 

RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene behaviors and, based on your own biology, the app will tell you when to do these habits to make them more effective.

RISE app screenshot showing sleep hygiene habit reminders
The RISE app can tell you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications here

How to Catch Up On Sleep?

Found out you haven’t been getting enough shut-eye? You can catch up on sleep.

Here’s how: 

  • Take afternoon naps: Nap for 90 minutes max and no later than during your afternoon dip in energy (check RISE for the timing of this each day). This can help you nap and still be able to fall asleep at night. 
  • Head to bed a little earlier than usual.  
  • Sleep in a little later than usual: Only snooze for an extra hour or so (at max two) to avoid messing up your body clock. 
  • Improve your sleep hygiene: This will help you spend more time sleeping while in bed, so you get more shut-eye overall. 

RISE calculates your sleep debt each day and keeps track as you chip away at it. We recommend aiming for less than five hours of sleep debt to feel your best. 

You can learn more about catching up on sleep here, including how long it takes and more tips on how to do it.

Do You Feel Tired Even if You Get Enough Sleep?

Yes, you can feel tired even if you get enough sleep. This can be due to: 

  • Sleep inertia, the groggy feeling you get when you wake up (this happens even when you get enough sleep, but it feels even worse when you don’t)
  • Getting enough sleep, but this sleep being broken or restless 
  • Thinking you’re getting more sleep than you are 
  • Needing more sleep than you think (it’s not eight hours for everyone)
  • Temporarily needing more sleep (this can happen when you’re ill, injured, or have just done intense exercise) 
  • Recovering from sleep debt (you may have had enough sleep last night, but still be recovering from previous nights of getting less sleep) 
  • Getting enough sleep, but at the wrong times for your circadian rhythm (by working nights or having an irregular sleep schedule, for example) 

We’ve covered why you’re still tired after eight hours of sleep and dive into these reasons in more detail.

When to Worry about Not Getting Enough Sleep?

Not getting enough sleep can lead to everything from low energy and trouble concentrating to weight gain and depression. So it’s not something you want to make a habit of. 

One or two nights of poor sleep isn’t cause for concern. But if it’s a regular occurrence, and improving your sleep hygiene hasn’t helped, seek medical advice.

A sleep specialist or healthcare provider can test you for sleep problems or medical conditions that could be stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Expert tip: It’s easier said than done, but try not to worry too much about not getting enough sleep. While it’s definitely something you want to fix, worrying about sleep can make it harder to drift off. The more you try to control sleep, the more you may struggle to get it. 

What Causes a Lack of Sleep?

A lack of sleep can be caused by: 

  • Poor sleep hygiene (which includes drinking alcohol or stimulants like coffee too close to bedtime, getting too much blue light from electronic devices before bed, and trying to drift off in a sleep environment that’s too warm).
  • Stress and anxiety (RISE users say stress and anxiety are the biggest culprits behind their trouble sleeping). 
  • Hormone changes during your period, pregnancy, or menopause. 
  • Sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome.
  • Medical conditions like depression, chronic pain, or COVID.  
  • Being out of sync with your circadian rhythm from night shifts, jet lag, or having an irregular sleep pattern throughout the week. 
  • Voluntarily staying up late to work or get in some me-time after a long day (known as sleep procrastination or revenge bedtime procrastination).

Find Out How Much Sleep You Need — And Start Getting It 

It can be hard to tell if you’re getting enough sleep. To get a quick and accurate answer, check the RISE app. 

RISE uses sleep-science-based algorithms to work out whether you have any sleep debt. If you’ve got a lot of sleep debt, you haven’t been getting enough sleep recently.  

Once you know this, you can do something about it. RISE works out how much sleep you should be aiming for each night, automatically tracks your sleep debt, and reminds you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits to help you start getting enough sleep to feel and perform better each day.

This can happen sooner than you think — 80% of RISE users get more sleep within five days.  

Summary FAQs

Am I getting enough sleep?

You may not be getting enough sleep if you’re feeling sleepy all day, you’re feeling irritable or unable to focus, you can’t make it until noon without caffeine, you’ve got bad skin or dark circles under your eyes, you feel hungrier or you’re craving junk food, or you sleep for much longer periods of time when you don’t set an alarm.

Am I getting enough sleep calculator

The RISE app is a sleep calculator that tells you whether you’re getting enough sleep each night. RISE calculates how much sleep you need and tracks how much sleep you’re getting to tell you whether you’ve got any sleep debt — which is the running total of the amount of sleep you owe your body.

How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?

You can know if you’re not getting enough sleep by checking for these signs: feeling tired all day, feeling irritable or unable to focus, struggling to make it until noon without caffeine, developing bad skin or dark circles under your eyes, feeling hungrier or craving junk food, or sleeping for much longer periods of time when you don’t set an alarm.

Do you feel tired even if you get enough sleep?

Yes, you can feel tired even if you get enough sleep. We all experience sleep inertia, which is the feeling of grogginess you get right after waking up, and we all feel tired to an extent during our natural afternoon dip in energy. You may also get enough sleep, but feel tired if this sleep is broken, restless, or at the wrong times for your body clock.

Signs you’re not getting enough sleep

Signs you’re not getting enough sleep include: feeling tired during the day (especially in the morning and during the afternoon slump), feeling irritable or unable to focus, developing bad skin or dark circles under your eyes, feeling hungrier or craving junk food, and sleeping for much longer periods of time when you don’t set an alarm.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll feel sleepy, irritable, anxious, and unproductive the next day. In the long term, not getting enough sleep can lead to health conditions like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

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