Getting enough sleep is an essential aspect of human performance. It is a critical component to our overall health, and allows the body to repair and restore itself in preparation for the day ahead.
While 8 hours of sleep per night is a commonly accepted goal, every human body is different and we all have different sleep needs. Additionally, there are various other factors (previous nights’ sleep, stress, activity level, etc.) that affect the amount of sleep you need on a nightly basis.
The WHOOP Sleep Coach takes all of this into account and tells you exactly how much sleep you need each and every night in order to be the best version of yourself.
WHOOP automatically tracks your sleep in detail down to the minute, including time spent in each stage of sleep (light, deep/slow wave, REM and awake). Below is a graph showing the range of typical bed and wake times for all WHOOP members:
On average, WHOOP members spend just under 8 hours in bed per night. But, time in bed is not the same thing as time asleep. Regular disturbances throughout the night (which often we are not even conscious of) can add up to significant sleep loss.
The average length of time WHOOP members actually sleep per night is slightly more than 7 hours. For men the average sleep time is 7:03, and for women it’s 7:20. Female WHOOP members also spend about 15 minutes more per night in bed than males do.
However, it should come as no surprise that there’s a significant difference between how much sleep people get and how much they could be getting in order to perform optimally. In fact, the average sleep need for WHOOP members is 8:34 per night.
Where does this number come from?
The WHOOP Sleep Coach incorporates your unique physiology, recent sleep, and the physical and mental demands put on your body, in order to calculate precisely how much sleep you need each night. Here’s how it works:
Baseline: Your baseline sleep need is the amount of sleep you should get every night prior to other factors coming into play. It is determined by your physiology, which WHOOP begins to learn about as soon as you put on the Strap.
Strain: WHOOP quantifies the strain (cardiovascular exertion) your body takes on from things like exercise, stress and normal daily activities. The more strain you accumulate during the day, the more sleep you need at night.
Sleep Debt: When you don’t get all the sleep you need at night, you start to build up sleep debt. In the WHOOP app, sleep debt refers to the amount of extra sleep your body requires tonight due to insufficient sleep on previous nights.
Naps: If you take a nap during the day, your sleep need that night is reduced by the amount of time you napped for.
All of these are combined to calculate your personal sleep need each night:
We fully understand that life can often get in the way of achieving your ideal amount of sleep on a regular basis. So, what should you aim for when that’s not possible? Is 7 hours of sleep enough? What about 6?
Again, it depends on circumstances and varies for everyone. The WHOOP Sleep Coach allows for this by giving you the option to set your daily performance goals to “peak,” “perform,” or “get by.” You can also adjust these settings based on the day of the week. For example, you may want to “peak” on Monday for a busy work day, but are fine to just “get by” on a lazy Saturday.
The Sleep Coach will then recommend an amount of time to spend in bed in order to reach your desired goal. “Peak” represents meeting 100% of your sleep need, “perform” sets you up to hit 85%, and “get by” puts you on track for 70%.
Beyond simply suggesting how much time to spend in bed at night, the Sleep Coach uses recent scientific discoveries on the value of sleep consistency and incorporates your natural circadian rhythm to offer the most effective times for you to go to bed and wake up (see screenshot above).
You can also specify your intended wake-up time and the Sleep Coach will adjust your advised bedtime accordingly. Each evening, the WHOOP app sends you a notification as well with your recommended sleep need and optimal time to go to sleep.