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How much sleep do you actually need to function

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But how much sleep do we really need? Until about 15 years ago, one common theory was that if you slept at least four or five hours a night, your cognitive performance remained intact; your body simply adapted to less sleep. But that idea was based on studies in which researchers sent sleepy subjects home during the day — where they may have sneaked in naps and downed coffee. Enter David Dinges, the head of the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital at University of Pennsylvania, who has the distinction of depriving more people of sleep than perhaps anyone in the world.


The rule that everyone needs eight hours of sleep is a myth

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Every one of us, on average, will be sleeping for 24 years in our lifetime. Still, there are many unanswered questions about sleep and how much we need of it.

With this post, Leo Widrich sets out to uncover what the most important research has taught us about sleep. And of course, how you can use this knowledge to create an unbeatable daily routine. One of the biggest problems I've discovered is that sleep is such an overly-talked about topic.

We get the general idea that we know all about it: how much we need of it, how it impacts us, and why this or that happens when we sleep.

Once I took a step back to really think about where our knowledge about sleep comes from, I realized that nearly all of it is based on hear-say or what my mom told me when I was in elementary school. Everyone has an answer to "how much sleep do you need"? A common one—and one that I have given on many occasions—is to respond "Oh yes, I need my hours of sleep every night, I know that.

One of the most acclaimed sleep researchers, Daniel Kripke , said there's never been any evidence to back the 8-hour rule. In his most recent study, Kripke found that "people who sleep between 6. What's even more interesting here is that sleeping longer than that might actually be worse for your health. Of course, the general idea about the "one-fits all sleeping amount" is particularly odd, as Jim Horne , one of Europe's most acclaimed sleep experts mentions in his book:.

It seems that finding your optimal sleeping time in between Kripke's finding is a good way to go. It's certainly something I'm giving a go now. Now this part is one of the most fascinating aspects about sleep. Have you ever been with someone who got only 4 hours of sleep but looks just as attentive, fresh, and up to his game as you, who spent 7. Well, the answer is this: someone who is severely sleep deprived is in fact as attentive and awake as you are. Here is what a recent study found: The sleep deprived person can in fact deliver the exact same results as someone who isn't sleep deprived in an exercise, when they give it their best shot.

Odd right? The problem lies elsewhere. Whether we are sleep deprived or not, we lose focus at times. And that is precisely where the sleep deprived person lands in a trap. If we start to lose focus but have received the right amount of sleep, our brain can compensate for that and increase attention see the image below for the increased yellow bits that shift your focus back. If we are sleep deprived, our brain can't refocus. The main finding is that the brain of the sleep-deprived individual is working normally sometimes, but intermittently suffers from something akin to power failure.

That's from Clifford Saper at Harvard. In the image you can see what this means. As you lose focus and your attention is drifting, the yellow bits show how people with enough sleep activate parts in their brain to refocus on the task at hand.

Sleep deprived people will have barely any activity in that area the amygdala reactivity and will struggle to regain focus. So really, this can turn into a huge trap.

The person bragging that they only slept 4 hours and still do great work, well, they are actually right with what they are saying. The only issue is that, they have no brainpower to steer them back to focus once they lose attention. Even worse so, sleep-deprived people don't notice their decrease in performance. Sleep-deprived workers may not know they are impaired. According to Saper, "the periods of apparently normal functioning could give a false sense of competency and security when, in fact, the brain's inconsistency could have dire consequences.

Not getting enough sleep is a pain. So now, onto the good stuff: what we can actually do to optimize our sleeping habits to new heights and sleep our way to success. When it comes to developing focused techniques that work on better sleeping habits, the web isn't short of answers. Querying some of the smartest brains I know, here are the top 3 things to do in order to have better sleep and work more productively:. For the past 2 years, since I started working on Buffer , I have been napping every day, for around 20 minutes.

One of my favorite writers and New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt does the same things for many years and posted his insights in this great post about napping. As Michael points out, some of the core benefits of napping are that you can restore alertness of your brain with just a few minutes of falling into light sleep.

Personally, I know that my productivity takes a dip at 3 PM every day. In a great video Michael pointed me towards, one of the key benefits of napping daily is to simply feel less tired. Although this may sound stupidly obvious, it can help a great deal to contribute to your daily happiness.

Check out this quick video on this topic. To get into a napping routine is often very difficult. Here are the top 3 ways I think you can make it work:. Try and get encouragement from your co-workers or your boss, so you can set yourself up for developing a successful habit. In fact, in the video above, the common sentence of "napping doesn't work for me" is often down to the fact that people nap too long. Don't let your naps exceed 30 minutes max; personally, 20 minutes has proven to be the optimal timing for me.

Keep both the frequency daily and the time of day 3pm seems to be a very popular time as productivity dips the same and consistent. How can you make this as easy as brushing your teeth every evening? It's very simple: develop a sleep ritual that will set you up for a great night of sleep ahead.

Rituals, different from habits, can be something a lot more compelling: "Whilst habits are often seen as activities you have to force yourself to do, rituals are instead activities which you are pulled towards," Joel Gascoigne writes in this great post on developing a sleep ritual. When it comes to creating a sleep ritual, one of the key things is to have the last activity completely disengage you from the tasks of the rest of your day.

Here are a few activities you can try to properly disengage:. It is a great way to clear your head and be ready for sleep. For a specific way to develop your evening walk, try Coelho's speed exercise.

Different to non-fiction books, it is a great way to completely disengage, enter a different world and mindset, and then be ready for great sleep. If you just set your alarm for say , but you always hit the snooze button, try something else. Keep the alarm, but plan the first thing you will do and tie it to a specific time. For me, that has been to have breakfast immediately at Or that my support session starts at Joel hits the gym exactly 5 minutes after wake-up time.

Those things can help a great deal to get over the inertia of getting out of bed. A key part of the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz, is to be aware that for the highest quality of sleep, you need to be drained, both physically and mentally.

Making sure that you have at least one mentally challenging exercise as well as a physically challenging one, can make all the difference to falling into a deep sleep that recovers all areas of your body. Here is a super interesting last fact: On average, women need a tad bit more sleep than men. The average is 20 minutes more, but some women may need slightly more or less than this. Because women's brains are wired differently from men's and are more complex, so their sleep need will be slightly greater, according to Horne.

How much sleep do we really need to work productively? Leo Widrich is the co-founder of Buffer , a smarter way to share on Twitter and Facebook. Leo writes more posts on efficiency and customer happiness over on the Buffer blog. Hit him up on Twitter LeoWid anytime; he is a super nice guy. The A. Shop Subscribe. Filed to: Sleep. Share This Story. Get our newsletter Subscribe. How to Dust Everything in Your Home.

Sleep Needs

How much sleep do we really need, and what happens if we get too little or too much? We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, so you've asked an important question. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to eight hours of sleep for people over age 64 and seven to nine hours for ages 18 to Kids need more sleep. Studies have asked large numbers of people how many hours of sleep they actually average and followed the health of these people over decades.

Some superhumans can survive on just a few hours of sleep , while others claim to be borderline narcoleptics. But the truth is your body needs a certain amount of sleep , and it is possible to get too much or too little. Being under- or over-rested can result in irritability , inability to focus, a lack of productivity, and bunions!

The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort! But even minimal sleep loss can take a substantial toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. And over the long-term, chronic sleep loss can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.

Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep (And How Much You Really Need a Night)

The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors — especially your age. While sleep needs vary significantly among individuals, consider these general guidelines for different age groups:. Some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep a night, but their performance is likely affected. Research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don't perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. Any use of this site constitutes your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy linked below.

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

It is well known that as children get older they need less sleep. Different people have different sleep needs. The advice in the table below is only a guide. You can make a good guess if a person is sleeping enough at night - observe how they act and function during the day. The above sleep duration recommendations are based on a report of an expert panel convened by the US based National Sleep Foundation and published in in their journal Sleep Health.

When you think of what makes up a healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise come to mind, but did getting enough restful sleep? Some researchers consider the lack of sleep that many people get to be at epidemic levels.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.

How much sleep do we really need?

Every one of us, on average, will be sleeping for 24 years in our lifetime. Still, there are many unanswered questions about sleep and how much we need of it. With this post, Leo Widrich sets out to uncover what the most important research has taught us about sleep. And of course, how you can use this knowledge to create an unbeatable daily routine.

Headlines nowadays are filled with information about sleep deprivation killing everything from your productivity to your moods, and with that, the notion of sleep being for the weak has fallen out of vogue. But how much—and how well—do you need to sleep to feel rested, recharged, and ready to tackle all of the challenges an entrepreneur faces in everyday life? Similar to the notion that you need eight glasses of water a day an idea that has been repeatedly debunked , there is the idea that you need eight uninterrupted hours of sleep per night. At least, this was the hardline gospel of the medical community. Just hold your horses.

How much sleep do you really need?

Sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. The National Sleep Foundation released the results of a world-class study that took more than two years of research to complete — an update to our most-cited guidelines on how much sleep you really need at each age. The panelists participated in a rigorous scientific process that included reviewing over current scientific publications and voting on how much sleep is appropriate throughout the lifespan. The recommendations now define times as either a recommended; b may be appropriate for some individuals; or c not recommended.

Sep 6, - As part of Dan's goodbye talk, he reminded us of the work that he had been doing in the area of sleep duration and that sleep is extraordinarily.

Many of us try to live by the mantra eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, eight hours of rest. Conventional wisdom has long told us we need eight hours of sleep per day, but some swear they need more, and some politicians, mostly say they function fine on four or five. So is the human brain wired to require eight hours, or is it different for everyone? We asked five experts if everyone needs eight hours of sleep per day. Sleep is absolutely essential, and prolonged sleep deprivation has many detrimental effects on health and lifespan.

How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need? Take This Quiz!







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