According to the US CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) we need 7-10 hours of sleep per night to maintain a balanced health and wellbeing.
When someone asks me how much I sleep, I often hear them: "Wow, you sleep a lot!". Yet it feels to me that too many people associate sleep with "wasted hours" that could be spent on training.
Some even say: "You only live once, why waste your time on sleep". But I can't function for too long without it. As a competitive athlete, I find that sleeping regularly less than 7 hours dramatically affects my recovery and performance. Specifically when the sleep is broken up during the night.
A perfect example of just how much sleep affects athletic performance is having a great night sleep two nights before a race. The reason is that the night of the race is going to be either sleepless (due to anxiety) or a few hours at best. The compounding effect of not properly sleeping and high stress of a competition reveals every weakness and delivers poor performance. I can feel it and my results don't lie. So as a rule, I try to maximize my sleep two nights before the race by getting in bed early, having comfortable bed, cool temperature and total darkness. Also, it is important not to eat too late as it will cause waking up during the night, negating all of the benefits.
If you are an athlete, how many hours do you need to sleep to feel rested and recovered?