Queensland Law Society

Wellbeing: Sleep - just how much is enough?

Did you know that you can survive longer without food than sleep? Indeed, if you ever find yourself in a life-threatening crisis situation, you should prioritise the need to sleep over food to avoid cognitive impairment[1]. Sleep is vital to our mental and physical health and functioning.

So how much sleep do you need? The answer, of course, is “it depends”: what is right for you is determined by your genetic make-up, current health, and general quality of sleep and lifestyle choices. For the vast majority of adults between 7 and 9 hours per night is appropriate.

To find out if you are hitting the sweet spot, consider these questions:

  • Do you wake up feeling refreshed?
  • Are you usually waking up before your alarm?
  • Are you then ready for bed again at a regular time?
  • Do you feel sleepy during the day?

If your answers are respectively yes, yes, yes and no; you are getting it right. If not, it is worth reflecting and investigating why this is the case, and what you can do to improve either sleep duration or quality:  

  • Is your bedroom set-up (light, noise, temperature, mattress and pillows) to be conducive to good sleep?
  • Do you have a relaxing wind-down routine that signals your body and mind to prepare for sleep? Or are worries and high levels of stress keeping you awake at night?
  • You may be mentally tired but not physically – do you have a regular exercise routine?
  • Turn off your social media alerts if your phone is next to your bed.
  • To exclude physical problems such as obstructive sleep apnoea or other conditions disturbing your sleep patterns, I also encourage you to speak to your GP.

As usual, you can reach out to the QLS Solicitor Support service to speak to me in a judgement-free and supportive environment. We also offer training on sleep hygiene. Please contact us on ethics@qls.com.au or p. 3842 5843.


Rebecca Niebler

Organisational Culture and Support Officer, QLS Solicitor Support (QLS Ethics and Practice Centre)
21 November 2019